Ichthyological Research

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 360–373

A review of the systematics of the sleeper shark genus Somniosus with redescriptions of Somniosus (Somniosus) antarcticus and Somniosus (Rhinoscymnus) longus (Squaliformes: Somniosidae)

  • Kazunari Yano
  • John D. Stevens
  • Leonard J. V. Compagno

DOI: 10.1007/s10228-004-0244-4

Cite this article as:
Yano, K., Stevens, J. & Compagno, L. Ichthyol Res (2004) 51: 360. doi:10.1007/s10228-004-0244-4


Past treatments of the sleeper shark genus Somniosus generally recognize three species: S. microcephalus, S. pacificus, and S. rostratus. Based on morphometrics and meristics, we conclude that this genus includes two subgenera (Somniosus and Rhinoscymnus) and five species. Subgenus Somniosus differs from Rhinoscymnus by being much larger when adult and in having more numerous tooth rows in the lower jaw, hooklike rather than leaf-shaped dermal denticles, more numerous spiral valve and vertebral counts, and a poorly calcified vertebral column. Subgenus Somniosus includes S. (Somniosus) microcephalus and S. (S.) pacificus of the Northern Hemisphere and S. (S.) antarcticus of the Southern Hemisphere. Although Somniosus antarcticus has been synonymized with S. microcephalus and identified as S. pacificus in past literature, it differs from S. microcephalus in having a shorter interdorsal space, a more posterior first dorsal fin, lower dorsal fins, more numerous tooth rows in the lower jaw, more numerous spiral valve counts, and fewer precaudal vertebrae. Somniosus antarcticus also differs from S. pacificus by having a shorter prebranchial length, lower dorsal fins, more numerous spiral valve counts, and slightly more precaudal vertebrae. Subgenus Rhinoscymnus includes S. (Rhinoscymnus) rostratus from the eastern North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea (senior synonym of S. bauchotae) and S. (R.) longus from the western Pacific Ocean. Somniosus longus has been synonymized with S. rostratus, but differs in having a relatively longer second dorsal fin, a slightly larger eye, more lower tooth rows, and slightly higher spiral valve counts. Both Somniosus (Somniosus) antarcticus and S. (Rhinoscymnus) longus from the Pacific Ocean were redescribed. A key to the species and the geographical distribution of all species are provided.

Key words

Systematics Squaliformes Somniosidae Somniosus Rhinoscymnus 

Copyright information

© The Ichthyological Society of Japan 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazunari Yano
    • 1
  • John D. Stevens
    • 2
  • Leonard J. V. Compagno
    • 3
  1. 1.Seikai National Fisheries Research Institute, Ishigaki Tropical StationFisheries Research AgencyOkinawaJapan
  2. 2.CSIRO Marine ResearchTasmaniaAustralia
  3. 3.Iziko-South African MuseumCape TownSouth Africa

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