Evolution and systematics

The single-family (Channidae) suborder Channoidei (snakeheads) is composed of only two genera, Channa, which includes all Asian species, and Parachanna, which includes all African species. The two genera differ mainly in the morphology of the air-breathing (suprabranchial) organ; that of the latter being less developed. Currently, 25 species of Channa and three species of Parachanna have been recognized. Although snakeheads have been considered a sister group of the Anabantoidei (climbing gouramies) or the Synbranchiformes (swamp eels), the relationship of snakeheads to other fish groups still remains uncertain. The earliest fossil record of snakeheads is Eochanna chorlakkiensis from the Kuldana Formation, Pakistan (middle Eocene).

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