Common name: Ghost Sharks, Ratfishes, Shortnose Chimaeras



Shortnose Chimaeras or ghost sharks have short rounded snouts, long tapering tails, large pectoral fins and a robust dorsal-fin spine with a venom gland at the base. Males have large claspers or intromittent organs associated with their pelvic fins, plus a small clasper on the forehead. 

Shortnose chimaeras live near the bottom and reach more than a metre in length (including the caudal filament). They feed on a range of fishes and invertebrates.

Kemper et al. (2015) provide a key to species of the genus Chimaera found in Australia and New Zealand.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Shortnose Chimaeras, CHIMAERIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 15 Apr 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

More than 35 species in two genera are known from continental shelf and slope waters worldwide. Ten described species in two genera are known from Australian waters, and all are treated in Last & Stevens (2009).


Dianne J. Bray


Bigelow, H.B. & Schroeder, W.C. 1953. Chimaeroids. pp. 515-588, figs 118-127 in Parr, A.E. (ed.). Fishes of the western North Atlantic. Memoir. Sears Foundation of Marine Research 1(2): 1-599.

Didier, D.A. 1995. Phylogenetic systematics of extant chimaeroid fishes (Holocephali, Chimaeroidei). American Museum Novitates 3119: 1-86.

Didier, D.A. 2004. Phylogeny and classification of extant holocephali (pp. 115–135). In J.C. Carrier, J.A. Musick, & M.R. Heithanus (eds). Biology of sharks and their relatives. London, UK:CRC Press.

Didier, D.A., Last, P.R., & White, W.T. 2008. Three new species of the genus Chimaera Linnaeus (Chimaeriformes: Chimaeridae) from Australia. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research Paper 22: 327–340.

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): 63-81. Abstract

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls.

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia. Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp.

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.