The structure of the caudal skeleton of extant teleost fishes has been interpreted in two different ways. In a diural interpretation, a caudal skeleton is composed of two centra articulated with one to six hypurals. Most subsequent authors have followed this interpretation. In contrast, a polyural interpretation considers the teleost fin to be derived from a fully metameristic ancestral bauplan originally composed of a one-to-one relationship between neural arches, centra (when present), and hypurals. Three different interpretations of the identity and homology of skeletal components of the caudal skeleton of the teleost fish Danio rerio have been proposed, two from a diural perspective and one from a polyural perspective. We examine each caudal skeletal component of Danio rerio from both a developmental and phylogenetic perspective. We propose that a polyural interpretation of structures is consistent with the current interpretation of the basal neopterygian caudal fin for this model organism rather than the older diural interpretation that does not take into account the metamerism observed in caudal structures during development. The polyural interpretation suggests several shared evolutionary innovations of major clades that would remain undiscovered under the older diural naming paradigm and makes the terminology of the parts of the caudal fin of Danio rerio strictly comparable to more basal fishes.
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Vol. 103 • No. 4