1000's more vintage prints available - CLICK HERE
Visit our main site at http://www.jnniepce.com/
A fish is any aquatic vertebrate animal that is covered with scales, and equipped with two sets of paired fins and several unpaired fins. Most fish are ectothermic (or cold-blooded). Fish are abundant in most bodies of water. Fish are found in high mountain streams (e.g., char and gudgeon) and in the deepest ocean depths (e.g., gulpers and anglerfish).
Food prepared from fish is also called fish, and is an important human food source. Commercial and subsistence fishers "hunt" them in wild fisheries (see fishing) or "farm" them in ponds or in cages in the ocean (see aquaculture). They are also caught by recreational fishers and raised by fishkeepers, and are exhibited in public aquaria. Fish have had a role in culture through the ages, serving as deities, religious symbols, and as the subjects of art, books and movies. Fish' early fossil record is not clear. It became a dominant form of sea life and eventually branched to create amphibians and land animals.
Proliferation was apparently due to the hinged jaw, because jawless fish left very few descendants. Lampreys may approximate pre-jawed fish. The first jaws are found in Placodermi fossils. It is unclear if the advantage of a hinged jaw is greater biting force, improved respiration, or a combination.
Fish may have evolved from a creature similar to a coral-like Sea squirt, whose larvae resemble primitive fish in important ways. Fish' first ancestors may have kept the larval form into adulthood (as some sea squirts do today), although perhaps the reverse is the case. Candidates for early fish include Agnatha such as Haikouichthys, Myllokunmingia and Conodonts. The term "fish" most precisely describes any non-tetrapod craniate (i.e. an animal with a skull and in most cases a backbone) that has gills throughout life and whose limbs, if any, are in the shape of fins. Unlike groupings such as birds or mammals, fish are not a single clade but a paraphyletic collection of taxa, including hagfishes, lampreys, sharks and rays, ray-finned fishes, coelacanths, and lungfishes.
A typical fish is ectothermic, has a streamlined body for rapid swimming, extracts oxygen from water using gills or uses an accessory breathing organ to breathe atmospheric oxygen, has two sets of paired fins, usually one or two (rarely three) dorsal fins, an anal fin, and a tail fin, has jaws, has skin that is usually covered with scales, and lays eggs.
Fish come in many shapes and sizes. This is a sea dragon, a close relative of the seahorse. Their leaf-like appendages enable them to blend in with floating seaweed.
Each criterion has exceptions. Tuna, swordfish, and some species of sharks show some warm-blooded adaptations—they can heat their bodies significantly above ambient water temperature. Streamlining and swimming performance varies from fish such as tuna, salmon, and jacks that can cover 10–20 body-lengths per second to species such as eels and rays that swim no more than 0.5 body-lengths per second. Many groups of freshwater fish extract oxygen from the air as well as from the water using a variety of different structures. Lungfish have paired lungs similar to those of tetrapods, gouramis have a structure called the labyrinth organ that performs a similar function, while many catfish, such as Corydoras extract oxygen via the intestine or stomach. Body shape and the arrangement of the fins is highly variable, covering such seemingly un-fishlike forms as seahorses, pufferfish, anglerfish, and gulpers. Similarly, the surface of the skin may be naked (as in moray eels), or covered with scales of a variety of different types usually defined as placoid (typical of sharks and rays), cosmoid (fossil lungfishes and coelacanths), ganoid (various fossil fishes but also living gars and bichirs), cycloid, and ctenoid (these last two are found on most bony fish). There are even fishes that live mostly on land. Mudskippers feed and interact with one another on mudflats and go underwater to hide in their burrows. The catfish Phreatobius cisternarum lives in underground, phreatic habitats, and a relative lives in waterlogged leaf litter.
Fish range in size from the huge 16 metres (52 ft) whale shark to the tiny 8 millimetres (0.31 in) stout infantfish.
Many types of aquatic animals commonly referred to as "fish" are not fish in the sense given above; examples include shellfish, cuttlefish, starfish, crayfish and jellyfish. In earlier times, even biologists did not make a distinction – sixteenth century natural historians classified also seals, whales, amphibians, crocodiles, even hippopotamuses, as well as a host of aquatic invertebrates, as fish. In some contexts, especially in aquaculture, the true fish are referred to as finfish (or fin fish) to distinguish them from these other animals.
Description Source Wikipedia