This shark has a beautiful ribbon-like tail, and teeth that differ in size and shape

The African Ribbontail catshark, (Eridacnis sinuans), is a Finback catshark belonging to the family Proscylliidae, found in the western Indian Ocean, from Tanzania, South Africa, and Mozambique, at depths between 591 and 1,640 feet. It can grow up to a length of 37 cm/1.2 feet and is considered a dwarf species.

Family: Proscylliidae – Finback Catsharks

Genus: Eridacnis 

Species: sinuans


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Proscylliidae

Common NameFinback Catsharks




Average Size and Length: They are born between 15-17 cm/5.9-6.7 inches. Mature males measure around 29-30 cm/11.4-11.8 inches, and mature females have measured around 37 cm. The maximum recorded is 37 cm/1.2 feet.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is triangular in shape. The small teeth differ in size and shape in both the upper and lower jaws. The upper jaws have narrow teeth with a long central cusp, and two surrounding irregular cusplets totaling three cusplets. The teeth in the front lower jaw are similar to the upper teeth, having a much thicker central, and almost microscopic two surrounding cusplets. The lower rear teeth are low, saw-like, jagged, horizontally serrated with around five cusps.

Head: The snout is fairly long. There are short anterior nasal flaps that do not reach the mouth. The cat-like eyes have nictitating membranes.

Tail: The caudal fin is long, narrow and ribbon-like.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The African Ribbontail catshark can be found in the southwestern Indian Ocean off of South Africa, Mozambique and Tanzania (4°S – 30°S). They can be found in deep water, on the upper continental slope and outer shelf between 591-1,640 feet. Geographic or bathymetric segregation of populations by sex probably occurs as most specimens taken off Natal.

Diet: They feed on small bony fish, crustaceans, and cephalopods.

Aesthetic Identification: The African Ribbontail catshark is a slender, dwarf-sized shark, Compagno even calling it a sharklet, that is grey-brown in color with faint dark banding on the caudal fin. There are light margins on the dorsal fins.

Biology and Reproduction: They are ovoviviparous, having two pups per litter.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: The sexes apparently segregate by area or depth. Mostly males were previously taken off of Natal.

African Ribbontail Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. Part of its range is trawled, but it is on no commercial interest.

African Ribbontail Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.