Painted Hornshark, Heterodontus marshallae (White, Mollen, O’Neill, Yang & Naylor 2023)

Other Names: Barred Bull-head Shark, Barred Shark, Bullhead Shark, Striped Bullhead Shark, Striped Cat Shark, Zebra Bullhead Shark, Zebra Horn Shark, Zebra Hornshark, Zebra Port Jackson Shark

Holotype of the Painted Hornshark, Heterodontus marshallae, WAM P.35408-007, adolescent male, 541 mm TL, from west of Exmouth Peninsula, Ningaloo Marine Park, Western Australia. Source: Australian National Fish Collection, CSIRO / Fig. 1, in White et al. (2023) Diversity 15(7): 849. License: CC by Attribution

A small pale greyish-brown hornshark with 22 dark brown bars and saddles, a dark brown blotch on the snout tip, a semicircular dark bar across the snout (usually divided for most of its length), and the anal fin well separated from the caudal fin. The species lacks a dark bar running from the rear gills onto the pectoral fin.
In Australia, this species was previously known as Heterodontus zebra (a species that occurs elsewhere in the Western Pacific).

Cite this page as:
Bray, D.J. 2023, Heterodontus marshallae in Fishes of Australia, accessed 27 May 2024,

Painted Hornshark, Heterodontus marshallae (White, Mollen, O’Neill, Yang & Naylor 2023)

More Info


Endemic to northwestern Australia from the Northwest Shelf, west of Exmouth Plateau, Western Australia, to north of Bathurst Island, Arafura Sea, Northern Territory.
Inhabits the outer continental shelf, mostly at depths of 150 to 200 m.


Vertebrae 106-112 (total), precaudal centra 70-76 (precaudal), 33-37 (monospondylous), 35-42 (diplospondylous trunk), 35-39 (diplospondylous caudal).
A small hornshark species with the following combination of characters: anal fin well separated from caudal fin (anal-caudal space 11.0-13.5% TL); ventral lobe of caudal fin prominent (lower postventral margin 4.7-6.1% TL); dorsal spines long (exposed first dorsal spine length 3.9-4.5% TL); dorsal fins taller in juveniles than adults; symphyseal and anterior teeth pointed, lateral teeth molariform with a longitudinal keel; 20–22 tooth files in upper jaw, 17–19 in lower jaw; egg case with narrow, curved, screw-like keels with 1.5 rotations from anterior to posterior margins.


Heterosdontus marshallae was previously considered to be conspecific with H. zebra from elsewhere in the Western Pacific: Japan, Korean peninsula, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia (Sulawesi, Ambon). 

Similar Species

Although similar to Heterodontus zebra, H. marshallae differs in several morphological characters, egg case morphology and coloration. Both have a pale background with 22 dark brown bands and saddles, they differ consistently in snout pattern (the snout of H. marshallae has a dark semicircular bar on the snout, usually bifurcated for most of its length vs. a pointed, triangular shaped dark marking in H. zebra). H. zebra also has a dark bar that originates below the posterior gill slits and extends onto the anterior pectoral fin, which is absent in H. marshallae.


The species is named in honour of Dr. Lindsay Marshall,  (, a scientific illustrator and elasmobranch scientist who expertly painted all the sharks and rays of the world for the Chondrichthyan Tree of Life Project. The vernacular name proposed is painted hornshark, in allusion to not only the beautiful coloration of the species but also to its namesake, who has painted all the hornsharks in amazing detail.

Species Citation

Heterodontus marshallae White, Mollen, O’Neill, Yang & Naylor 2023, Diversity 15(7): West of Exmouth Peninsula, Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth waters), Western Australia, 22°22.946′ S, 113°40.308′ E, 210–212 m depth.


Bray, D.J. 2023


Atlas of Living Australia

Painted Hornshark, Heterodontus marshallae (White, Mollen, O’Neill, Yang & Naylor 2023)


Allen, G.R. 1997. Marine Fishes of Tropical Australia and South-east Asia. Perth : Western Australian Museum 292 pp. 106 pls. (as Heterodontus zebra)

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125. Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249. (as Heterodontus zebra in part) 

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp. (as Heterodontus zebra in part) 

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World. London : Collins 368 pp. (as Heterodontus zebra in part)  

Gloerfelt-Tarp, T. & Kailola, P.J. 1984. Trawled Fishes of Southern Indonesia and Northwest Australia. Jakarta : Dir. Gen. Fish. (Indonesia), German Tech. Coop., Aust. Dev. Ass. Bur. 406 pp. (as Heterodontus zebra

Larson, H.K., Williams, R.S. & Hammer, M.P. 2013. An annotated checklist of the fishes of the Northern Territory, Australia. Zootaxa 3696: 1-293.
 (as Heterodontus zebra)

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

McAuley, R., Newbound, D. & Ashworth, R. 2002. Field identification guide to Western Australian sharks and shark-like rays. Western Australia: Perth, Australia : Department of Fisheries, pp. 1-25. (as Heterodontus zebra)

Naylor, G.J.P., Caira, J.N., Jensen, K., Rosana, K.A.M., White, W.T. & Last, P.R. 2012. A DNA sequence-based approach to the identification of shark and ray species and its implications for global elasmobranch diversity and parasitology. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 367: 1-263. (as Heterodontus cf. zebra)

Sainsbury, K.J., Kailola, P.J. & Leyland, G.G. 1984. Continental Shelf Fishes of Northern and North-Western Australia. Canberra : Fisheries Information Service 375 pp. figs & pls. (as Heterodontus zebra)

White, W.T., Mollen, F.H., O’Neill, H.L., Yang, L. & Naylor, G.J.P. 2023. Species in disguise: A new species of hornshark from Northern Australia (Heterodontiformes: Heterodontidae). Diversity 15(7): 849, 27 pp.

Williams, A., Last, P.R., Gomon, M.F. & Paxton, J.R. 1996. Species composition and checklist of the demersal ichthyofauna of the continental slope off Western Australia (20–35◦ S). Records of the Western Australian Museum 18: 135–155. (as Heterodontus zebra)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37007002

Depth:125-229 m

Habitat:Outer continental shelf

Max Size:60 cm SL

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CAAB distribution map