, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 281-287

Internal morphology and function of paired fins in the epaulette shark,hemiscyllium ocellatum

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Abstract

Paired fins and associated internal structures of the epauletic sharkHemiscyllium ocellatum, were described on the basis of three specimens. A comparison with other genera showed the epaulette shark to be, characterized by two elongated basal cartilages articulating with a distally projecting articular condyle on the coracoid, a loosely separated radial series with an intermediate series, a levator pectoralis inferior muscle and an anterolaterally developed depressor pectoralis muscle in the pectoral fin, and an elongated anterior pelvic basal cartilage articulating with a distally projecting articular condyle and an anterolaterally developed depressor pelvicus muscle in the pelvic fin. In captivity, the sharks exhibited both upright and crawling behavior on the bottom by using the pectoral and pelvic fins and bending the body. The distinctive morphological characters are shared by otherHemiscyllium species and are suggested as important factors enabling their unique behavior associated with a complex coral reef habitat.