Needlefishes are members of the Beloniformes and close relatives of the flyingfishes, halfbeaks, and sauries. However, the precise relationships between these groups has been debated among systematists. Juvenile needlefish pass through a developmental stage where the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw, sometimes known as the "halfbeak stage", so it has been hypothesised that halfbeaks are paedomorphic needlefish, that is, halfbeaks as adults retain characteristics of the juvenile stages of their ancestors, the needlefish. The alternate view is that the unequal lengths of the upper and lower jaws seen in halfbeaks is the basal condition, with needlefish being relatively derived in comparison
Needlefish (family Belonidae) are piscivorous fishes primarily associated with shallow marine habitats or the surface of the open sea. Some genera include species found in marine, brackish, and freshwater environments (e.g., Strongylura) while at a few genera are confined to freshwater rivers and streams, including Belonion, Potamorrhaphis, and Xenentodon. Needlefish closely resemble North American freshwater gars (family Lepisosteidae) in being elongate and having long, narrow jaws filled with sharp teeth, and some species of needlefish are referred to as gars or garfish despite being only distantly related to the true gars. In fact the name "garfish" was originally used for the needlefish Belone belone in Europe and only later applied to the North American fishes by European settlers during the 18th Century. Needlefish are in fact members of the Beloniformes and therefore most closely related to flying fish, sauries, and halfbeaks.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Needlefish".