The Skeletal System of the Bowfin (Amia calva)

By:  Jared Handley and Jesse Fielder  (2004)

Phylum:  Chordata
Subphylum:  Vertebrata
Class:  Osteichthyes 
Subclass:  Actinopterygii
Infraclass:  Neopterygii       

Family:  Amiidae
Order:  Amiiformes
Common names of the bowfin are "dogfish," "grinnel," and "mudfish."  These fish are large predators usually found in shallow/weedy lakes, swamps, and backwater areas and are capable of surface respiration due to a fleshy, vascular swimbladder that is connected to the esophagus.   The family is now represented by a single species (Amia calva).  Bowfin are primitive fish and retain:  a modified (rounded externally) heterocercal fin, lunglike gas bladder, vestiges of a spiral valve, and a bony gular plate underneath the head.  The bowfin dates as far back as the Jurassic period and was distributed in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. The diet of a juvenile bowfin contains microcrustacea and small insects, shifting to a piscivorous diet in larger individuals.  Adults, however, consume about two-thirds fish and one-third crayfish.  The sexual maturity of the bowfin occurs at about two to four years of age.  The female can produce 23,000-64,000 adhesive eggs annually throughout an average life span of about ten years.    
* Bowfin are used in comparative as a window into the past, due to their primitive vertebrate features.


Dorsal View (Skull)   Pelvic Girdle   
Lateral View (Skull)  Axial Skeleton 1
Ventral View (Skull) Axial Skeleton 2
Amia Teeth References
Pectoral Girdle