Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 189–202 | Cite as

Contribution to the taxonomy and distribution of Pristiophorus nancyae (Elasmobranchii: Pristiophoriformes) from the deep western Indian Ocean

  • Simon Weigmann
  • Matthias F. W. Stehmann
  • Ralf Thiel
Original Paper


The African dwarf sawshark Pristiophorus nancyae is one of the least known species of the genus. The species was described in 2011 based on type specimens in rather poor condition and with a very restricted distribution off southern Mozambique. Since nine further specimens in mostly excellent condition became available, the authors reinvestigated the species. These new records document a considerable extension of the distribution northwards to off Kenya and off the Socotra Islands. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of dermal denticles and a description of ontogenetic changes in dermal denticle arrangement and shape are presented for the first time. A more detailed photographic documentation and the first radiograph of the species are also given, along with updated and extended morphometrics and meristics, providing insights into wider ranges of natural variation. Furthermore, first images and description of clasper morphology and skeleton are provided. Detailed morphometrics and meristics, as well as SEM images of dermal denticles, are presented for the first time for P. cirratus, P. nudipinnis and P. schroederi.


Chondrichthyes Pristiophorus nancyae African dwarf sawshark Clasper features Western Indian Ocean 



The authors are grateful to Peter Last (CSIRO) for the donation of one specimen each of Pristiophorus cirratus and P. nudipinnis to the collection of the ZMH in 1995. Many thanks also to Renate Walter and Dietmar Keyser (ZMH) for help with the SEM, to Bruce Welton (New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science) for comments on the validity of records of P. nancyae from off Pakistan, to Diego F.B. Vaz (MZUSP) for comments on the claspers of P. nancyae, to I.A. Verhigina (ZMMU) for loan of P. nancyae ZMMU P 14847 to MFWS, to Christine Thacker and Rick Feeney (LACM) for providing collection data for a comparative loan specimen of P. cirratus (LACM 42620–20) to MFWS, to Susan Jewett (USNM) for providing radiographs of the type specimens of P. schroederi in 1999 and for loan of comparative specimen P. schroederi USNM 202479 to MFWS, to Dave Johnson and Sandra Raredon (USNM) for providing radiographs of comparative specimen P. schroederi USNM 202479 and to Michael Bougaardt (Iziko South African Museum) for providing photographs of the eight type specimens of P. nancyae. MFWS remembers gratefully the comradeship and great assistance by the RV ‘Vityaz’ crew, all Russian and western guest scientists; special thanks to the late chief scientist N.V. Parin. The authors are grateful to the journal editor and reviewers of the manuscript for their helpful comments.


  1. Amante C, Eakins BW (2009) ETOPO1 1 Arc-minute global relief model: procedures, data sources and analysis. NOAA Technical Memorandum NESDIS NGDC-24. National Geophysical Data Center, BoulderGoogle Scholar
  2. Claeson KM, Hilger A (2011) Morphology of the anterior vertebral region in elasmobranchs: special focus, Squatiniformes. Foss Rec 14(2):129–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Compagno LJV (1984) FAO species catalogue. Vol. 4, Sharks of the world. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date (Part 1, Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes). FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125, Vol 4, Part 1. FAO, Rome, pp 1–249Google Scholar
  4. Compagno LJV (1988) Sharks of the order Carcharhiniformes. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  5. Compagno LJV (2001) Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes). FAO Species Catalogue for Fishery Purposes No. 1, Vol 2. FAO, Rome, pp 1–269Google Scholar
  6. Compagno LJV, Stehmann M, Ebert DA (1990) Rhinochimaera africana, a new longnose chimaera from southern Africa, with comments on the systematics and distribution of the genus Rhinochimaera Garman, 1901 (Chondrichthyes, Chimaeriformes, Rhinochimaeridae). S Afr J Mar Sci 9(1):201–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Compagno LJV, Dando M, Fowler S (2005) A field guide to the Sharks of the World. Harper Collins, LondonGoogle Scholar
  8. de Carvalho MR, Gomes UL (1991) Reinterpretation of the clasper morphology of Prionace glauca (Chondrichthyes, Carcharhiniformes) with notes on clasper terminology. An Acad Bras Ciências 64(1):199–206Google Scholar
  9. Ebert DA, Cailliet GM (2011) Pristiophorus nancyae, a new species of sawshark (Chondrichthyes: Pristiophoridae) from southern Africa. Bull Mar Sci 87(3):501–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Huber O (1901) Die Kopulationsglieder der Selachier. Z Wiss Zool 70(4):592–674Google Scholar
  11. Hulley PA (1972) The origin, interrelationships and distribution of southern African Rajidae (Chondrichthyes, Batoidei). Ann S Afr Mus 60:1–103Google Scholar
  12. Jungersen HFE (1898) Ueber die Bauchflossenanhänge (Copulationsorgane) der Selachiermännchen. Anat Anz 14:498–513Google Scholar
  13. Jungersen HFE (1899) The Danish Ingolf Expedition, Volume II. 2. On the Appendices genitales in the Greenland shark, Somniosus microcephalus (Bl. Schn.), and other selachians. Bianco Luno, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  14. Last PR, Stevens JD (1994) Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  15. Last PR, Stevens JD (2009) Sharks and rays of Australia, 2nd edn. CSIRO Publishing, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  16. Leigh-Sharpe WH (1922) The comparative morphology of the secondary sexual characters of holocephali and elasmobranch fishes. The claspers, clasper siphons, and clasper glands. Memoir V. J Morphol 36(2):221–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Naylor GJP, Caira JN, Jensen K, Rosana KAM, Straube N, Lakner C (2012) Elasmobranch phylogeny: a mitochondrial estimate based on 595 species. In: Carrier JC, Musick JA, Heithaus MR (eds) The biology of sharks and their relatives, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 31–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Sabaj Pérez MH (ed) (2013) Standard symbolic codes for institutional resource collections in herpetology and ichthyology: an Online Reference. Version 4.0 (28 June 2013). Accessed 30 July 2013
  19. Springer S, Bullis HR (1960) A new species of sawshark, Pristiophorus schroederi, from the Bahamas. Bull Mar Sci Gulf Caribb 10(2):241–254Google Scholar
  20. Springer VG, Garrick JAF (1964) A survey of vertebral numbers in sharks. Proc U S Nat Mus 116:73–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Stehmann M (1970) Vergleichend morphologische und anatomische Untersuchungen zur Neuordnung der Systematik der nordostatlantischen Rajidae (Chondrichthyes, Batoidei). Arch Fisch 21(2):73–164Google Scholar
  22. Timokhin IG, Usachev SI (1993) Specific composition, distribution, biology, and prospects of shark fisheries in Aden Gulf and the waters of Socotra Island. In: Yakovlev VN (ed) Main results of Yugniro Complex Research in Azov Black Seas Region and the World Ocean in 1992. Kerch Ukraine Yugniro 39, pp 113–117Google Scholar
  23. Vaz DFB, de Carvalho MR (2013) Morphological and taxonomic revision of species of Squatina from the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean (Chondrichthyes: Squatiniformes: Squatinidae). Zootaxa 3695(1):1–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Weigmann S, Stehmann MFW, Thiel R (2013) Planonasus parini n. g. and n. sp., a new genus and species of false cat sharks (Carchariniformes, Pseudotriakidae) from the deep northwestern Indian Ocean off Socotra Islands. Zootaxa 3609(2):163–181PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Yearsley GK, Last PR, White WT (2008) A new species of sawshark, Pristiophorus delicatus sp. nov. (Pristiophoriformes: Pristiophoridae), from northeastern Australia. In: Last PR, White WT, Pogonoski JJ (eds) Descriptions of new Australian Chondrichthyans. CSIRO Marine and Atmosphere Research Paper No. 022. CSIRO Marine and Atmosphere Research, Canberra, pp 23–33Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Weigmann
    • 1
  • Matthias F. W. Stehmann
    • 2
  • Ralf Thiel
    • 1
  1. 1.Biocenter Grindel and Zoological MuseumUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.ICHTHYS, Ichthyological Research Laboratory and ConsultantHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations