Osteichthyes , popularly referred to as the bony fish, is a diverse taxonomic group of fish that have skeletons primarily composed of bone tissue, as opposed to cartilage. The vast majority of fish are members of Osteichthyes, which is an extremely diverse and abundant group consisting of 45 orders, and over 435 families and 28,000 species. It is the largest class of vertebrates in existence today. The group Osteichthyes is divided into the ray-finned fish (Actinopterygii) and lobe-finned fish (Sarcopterygii). The oldest known fossils of bony fish are about 420 million years ago, which are also transitional fossils, showing a tooth pattern that is in between the tooth rows of sharks and bony fishes. Osteichthyes can be compared to Euteleostomi. In paleontology, the terms are synonymous. In ichthyology, the difference is that Euteleostomi presents a cladistic view which includes the terrestrial tetrapods that evolved from lobe-finned fish, whereas on a traditional view, Osteichthyes includes only fishes and is therefore paraphyletic. However, recently published phylogenetic trees treat the Osteichthyes as a clade.
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