Common name: Catsharks



Similar to the collared carpetsharks (Family Parascyllidae) in general shape but differ in having a more posteriorly placed mouth that is never totally anterior to eye. Most species also lack both nasal barbels (except in Poroderma) and grooves connecting the nostrils to the mouth (except in Atelomycterus).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2020, Catsharks, SCYLIORHINIDAE in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

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Family Taxonomy

The largest family of sharks with small species rarely over 1 m in length. Currently, nine genera and 34 described species are known from Australia. Many of the tropical species from Australia are treated in Compagno & Niem (1998). Compagno et al. (2005) and Last & Stevens (1994, 2009) treated all described species known from Australia.

Family Distribution

The family has a broad geographic range from tropical waters to arctic waters and ranging from shallow coastal waters to depths beyond 2000 m.

Family Description

Diagnostic features include two dorsal fins (only one dorsal fin in Pentanchus) without spines, the first originating over or posterior to pelvic-fin bases; caudal fin asymmetrical, its lower lobe weakly differentiated or absent; anal fin present; no precaudal pits or keels; five gill slits, the last two posterior to pectoral-fin origin; teeth very small and numerous, usually multicuspid; spiracles absent.

Family Size

Rarely exceed 1.5 metres in length.

Family Feeding

Carnivores - feed on fishes and invertebrates.

Family Reproduction

Catsharks are oviparous and produce a horny egg case.

Family Biology

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. Sharks. [unnumbered pages] In, Fischer, W. & Bianchi, G. (eds) FAO Species Identification Sheets for Fishery Purposes. Western Indian Ocean (Fishing Area 51). Rome : FAO Vol. 5

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Carcharhiniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(2) 251-655 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Families Scyliorhinidae, Proscylliidae. pp. 1279-1292 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes. Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp.

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp.

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.

Nakaya, K. 1975. Taxonomy, comparative anatomy and phylogeny of Japanese catsharks, Scyliorhinidae. Memoirs of the Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University 23(1): 1-94 figs 1-43

Soares, K.D.A. 2020. Comparative anatomy of the clasper of catsharks and its phylogenetic implications (Chondrichthyes: Carcharhiniformes: Scyliorhinidae). Journal of Morphology 17pp.

Springer, S. 1979. A revision of the catsharks, family Scyliorhinidae. National Marine Fisheries Service (U.S.). Technical Report 422: 1-152 figs 1-97

White, W.T. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon. M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast. Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp.


Bray, D.J. 2020