Common name: Ghostsharks, chimaeras, ratfish, spookfish

A relatively small group of elongate cartilaginous fishes with soft smooth bodies, large heads covered in prominent sensory canals, a single gill opening on each side and teeth fused into beak-like tooth plates.

Chimareas have large pectoral fins, two dorsal fins and a low anal fin joined to a low caudal fin that often terminates in a long filament. Most species have a stout venomous spine at the beginning of the first dorsal fin. They grow to about 1.5 m.

Although a few species are found inshore, most live near the bottom on the continental shelf and slope in depths to more than 2600 m.

Like sharks and rays, fertilisation is internal via male claspers (modified pelvic fins). Adult males have extra sexual claspers on their head and in front of their pelvic fins to hold the females during copulation. Females lay leathery egg cases.

Author: Bray, D.J. 2017

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2017, Chimaeras, CHIMAERIFORMES in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 Sep 2017, http://fishesofaustralia.net.au/Home/order/12

Order References

Coates MI, Gess RW, Finarelli JA, Criswell KE, Tietjen K. 2017. A symmoriiform chondrichthyan braincase and the origin of chimaeroid fishes. Nature, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/nature20806 Abstract

Didier DA, Kemper JM, Ebert DA. 2012. Phylogeny, biology, and classification of extant Holocephalans. In: Carrier JC, Musick JA, Heithaus MR (eds). The biology of sharks and their relatives. 2nd ed. Boca Raton: CRC Press. p. 97–121. http://dx.doi.org/10.1201/b11867-6

Gillis, J.A., Rawlinson, K.A., Bell, J., Lyon, W.S., Baker, C.V.H. & Shubin, N.H. 2011. Holocephalan embryos provide evidence for gill arch appendage reduction and opercular evolution in cartilaginous fishes. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. 108: 1507–1512.

Inoue, J. G., Miya, M., Lam, K., Tay, B. H., Danks, J. A., Bell, J., Walker, T. I. & Venkatesh, B. 2010. Evolutionary origin and phylogeny of the modern holocephalans (Chondrichthyes: Chimaeriformes): a mitogenomic perspective. Mol. Biol. Evol. 27: 2576–2586.

Kemper, JM, DA Ebert, GJP Naylor & DA Didier. 2015. Chimaera carophila (Chondrichthyes: Chimaeriformes: Chimaeridae), a new species of chimaera from New Zealand. Bull Mar Sci. 91(1):000–000. OPEN ACCESS http://dx.doi.org/10.5343/bms.2014.1042

Last, P.R. & J.D. Stevens. 2009. Sharks and rays of Australia. 2nd Ed. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia. 644 p.

Licht, M., K. Schmuecker, T, Huelsken, R. Hanel, P. Bartsch & M. Paeckert. 2012. Contribution to the molecular phylogenetic analysis of extant holocephalan fishes (Holocephali, Chimaeriformes). Organisms Diversity & Evolution 12: 421–432.

Naylor GJP, Ryburn JA, Fedrigo O, Lopez JA. 2005. Phylogenetic relationships among the major lineages of modern elasmobranchs. In: Hamlett WC, editor. Reproductive biology and phylogeny of Chondrichthyes: sharks, batoids and chimaeras. Volume 3. Enfield NH: Science Publishers, Inc. p. 1–25.