Maisey, John G. Division of Paleontology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York.
Boschung, Herbert T. Formerly, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Last reviewed:August 2015
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The only extant order of the chondrichthyan subclass Holocephali, comprising the ratfishes. Members of the order Chimaeriformes (chimaeriforms or ratfishes; Fig. 1) are the closest living relatives of members of the subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays). They are a distinctive group of marine fishes that mostly inhabit the deeper parts of the world's oceans, especially in the Atlantic and Pacific. Some species move to coastal waters during the winter months, and a few species may be restricted to these environments. Modern ratfishes are divided into three families (Callorhinchidae, Chimaeridae, and Rhinochimaeridae), which are distinguished by the shape of the snout. See also: Chondrichthyes; Elasmobranchii
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