Shark Family Tree

Dalatidae: Kitefin Sharks

Dalatidae is a smaller family of very diverse species of sharks, including Kitefins, Cookiecutters and Pocket sharks, to name a few.  These  dwarf- to medium-sized sharks occur almost world-wide in open ocean or on the bottom in most temperate to tropical seas; however, some species have only been found so far in single ocean basins or ridges. Dalatidae sharks have narrow, blunt snouts with strong jaws filled with small spear-like upper teeth and large blade-like interlocked lower teeth with smooth or serrated edges.

For the most part, Dalatidae sharks are poorly known and diverse. Some are solitary; others form large aggregations. Furthermore, the Cookiecutters (another bioluminescent species) and Dalatius licha bite chunks out of much larger prey items like seals and Great White sharks. They have specially-designed morphology including huge blade-like teeth and specialized pharynx and lips to create suction on their bite so they can plug, rotate and remove chunks of meat off their unsuspecting prey. Another example of strange adaptions in this family is the Pocket Shark. As the name implies, this shark has a large pocket-like gland posterior of the pectoral base. There’s only one known specimen of this shark known to scientists!

Profile Species: Kitefin Shark (Dalatias licha)
Dalatias licha / Kitefin Shark

Dalatias licha / Kitefin Shark

Distribution:  Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans between 37 and 1800 deep in warm-temperate and tropical outer continental and insular shelves and slopes, usually on or near the bottom.
Behaviour: Known to be solitary predators but sometimes form large aggregations. Hover just above the bottom, but move into the water column to hunt.
Biology:  Viviparous. Still poorly known.
Diet: Deepwater fishes including sharks. Known to “cookie-cut.”

*Brought to you by Sharks of the World, 2014.

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