The sawblade-snouted small sharks of the Pristiophoridae family are deep-water inhabitants much different from the larger sawfish (actually batoids), even though the two at first glance might look similar. For example, sawsharks have gills at the sides of their heads like other sharks, and sawfish gills are on the ventral surface. Sawsharks’ unique morphology includes long string-like ventral barbels in front of the nostrils on their jagged-tooth snouts, called rostrums, which they slash at prey with to stun them . They have two spineless dorsal fins but no anal fin. All but one known species have five pairs of gill slits; the lone, Pliotrema warreni, has six pairs.
Profile Species: African Dwarf Sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae)
Distribution: West Indian Ocean to Arabian Sea on upper continental slopes between 286 and 500 meters deep.
Biology: Viviparous; virtually unknown.
Diet: Small crustaceans.
*Brought to you by Sharks of the World, 2014.