, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 445-464

The biology of extinct and extant sawfish (Batoidea: Sclerorhynchidae and Pristidae)

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Abstract

Sclerorhynchids (extinct sawfishes, Batoidea), pristids (extant sawfish, Batoidea) and pristiophorids (sawsharks, Squalomorphi) are the three elasmobranch families that possess an elongated rostrum with lateral teeth. Sclerorhynchids are the extinct sawfishes of the Cretaceous period, which reached maximum total lengths of 100 cm. The morphology of their rostral teeth is highly variable. Pristid sawfish occur circumtropically and can reach maximum total lengths of around 700 cm. All pristid species are globally endangered due to their restricted habitat inshore. Pristiophorid sawsharks are small sharks of maximum total lengths below 150 cm, which occur in depths of 70–900 m. Close examination of the morphology of pectoral fin basals and the internal structure of the rostrum reveals that sclerorhynchids and pristids evolved independently from rhinobatids, whereas pristiophorids are squalomorph sharks. The elongation of the rostrum may be an adaptation for feeding, as all marine vertebrate taxa that possess this structure are said to use it in the context of feeding.