BIO 370 Vertebrate Zoology
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Vertebrate Diversity
Class Chondrichthyes
Cartilagenous Fishes

(Click on any image for larger version)

Chondrichthyes Characteristics

  • General gnathostome characteristics:
    Jaws (with calcified teeth in extant groups)
    Serially arranged vertebrae
    Pectoral and pelvic girdles support paired fins
  • Skeleton composed of cartilage (no bone)
  • Heterocercal tail
  • Placoid scales
  • Claspers on male pelvic fins

Subclass Holocephali Chimaeras

Order Chimaeriformes

  • Chimaeras, ratfishes, etc. (37 species)
  • Enlarged head with beak-like teeth
  • Upper jaw fused to cranium
  • Mostly scale-less body
  • All but one pair of gill slits covered by operculum
  • Base of pectoral & pelvic fins fleshy, rest with ceratotrichia
  • 2 dorsal fins
  • Marine; mostly deep water
Chimaera, Hydrolagus sp.;
Order Chimaeriformes
Spotted Ratfish
Spotted Ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei, female; Order Chimaeriformes
Male Spotted Ratfish
Spotted Ratfish, Hydrolagus colliei, male; Order Chimaeriformes
See also labeled photo.

Subclass Elasmobranchi; Clade Selachii Sharks

Elasmobranch Characteristics

  • Retain many primitive gnathostome characteristics
  • Body covered in placoid scales
  • Upper jaw not fused to cranium
  • 5-7 externally visible gill slits
  • Ampullae of Lorenzini

Selachian Characteristics

  • Sharks
  • Most with fusiform, streamlined shape
  • Gill slits are located laterally (side of head)
  • Pectoral fins not attached to head
  • Mostly marine
See also
Chondrichthyan Anatomy page

Smoothhound Shark
Gray Smoothhound Shark, Mustelus californicus
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Great Hammerhead, Sphyrna mokarran
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Bonnethead Shark
Bonnethead Shark, Sphyrna tiburo
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Reef Shark
Black-tipped Reef Shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Leopard Shark
Leopard Shark, Triakis semifasciata
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Chain Catshark
Chain Catshark, Scyliorhinus retifer
(Order Carcharhiniformes)
Nurse Shark
Nurse Shark, Ginglymostoma cirratum; Belize (Order Orectolobiformes)
Bamboo Shark
White-spotted Bamboo Shark, Chiloscyllium plagiosum
(Order Orectolobiformes)
Wobbegong Shark
Ornate Wobbegong Shark, Orectolobus ornatus
(Order Orectolobiformes)
Zebra Shark
Zebra Shark, Stegostoma fasciatum
(Order Orectolobiformes)
Whale Shark
Whale Shark, Rhincodon typus; the largest extant fish is a filter feeder of plankton
(Order Orectolobiformes)
Spiny Dogfish
Spiny Dogfish, Squalus acanthias
(Order Squaliformes)
See also labeled photo.
Sand Tiger Shark
Sand Tiger Shark, Carcharias taurus;
(Order Lamniformes)
Angel Shark
Pacific Angel Shark, Squatina californica;
(Order Squatiniformes)
Seven Gill Shark
Broadnose Sevengill Shark, Notorynchus cepedianus;
(Order Hexanchiformes);
one of the most primitive sharks (most other sharks have only 5 external gill slits)
Horn Shark
Horn Shark, Heterodontus francisci;
(Order Heterodontiformes)

Subclass Elasmobranchi; Clade Batoidea Skates & Rays


  • Body flattened with enlarged pectoral fin fused to head
  • Gill slits on ventral surface
  • Eyes located dorsally
  • Lack anal fin
  • Most are bottom dwellers; some occur in fresh water
  • You will not need to know the individual orders

Manta Ray
Manta Ray, Manta birostris: The world's largest ray, a plankton filter feeder
(Order Myliobatiformes)
Cownosed Ray
Cownose Ray, Rhinoptera bonasus
(Order Myliobatiformes)
Eagle Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray, Myliobatis aquila
(Order Myliobatiformes)
Ocellated Stingray
Ocellated Sting-Ray, Potamotrygon motoro
(Order Myliobatiformes)
Southern Stingray
Southern Sting-Ray, Dasyatis americana; Belize
(Order Myliobatiformes)
Leopard Whipray, Himantura undulata, ventral surface
(Order Myliobatiformes)

See also labeled photo.
Big Skate
Big Skate, Raja binoculata
(Order Rajiformes)
California Skate
California Skate, Raja inornata
(Order Rajiformes)
Shovelnose Guitarfish, Rhinobatos productus
(Order Rhinopristiformes)
Giant Guitarfish
Giant Guitarfish, Rhynchobatus djidensis
(Order Rhinopristiformes)
Shark Ray, Rhina ancylostoma
(Order Rhinopristiformes)
Largetooth Sawfish, Pristis microdon;
(Order Rhinopristiformes)

Some Prehistoric Chondrichthyans

Prehistoric Sharks Models

Prehistoric Sharks Key
This page last updated 16 July 2017 by Udo M. Savalli ()
Images and text Udo M. Savalli. All rights reserved.