This shark’s denticle crest along the tail has the feeling of a saw

The Australian Sawtail catshark (Figaro boardmani or Galeus boardmani) is a common species of catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, endemic to Australian waters. It is characterized by crests of enlarged dermal denticles along both the dorsal and ventral edges of its caudal fin and caudal peduncle, along with a color pattern of broad, dark saddles outlined in white.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Figaro or Galeus 

Species: boardmani


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks

GenusGaleus or Figaro



Average Size and Length: Mature males have been measured at 40 cm/1.3 feet. Mature females have been measured at 43 cm/1.4 feet. The longest recorded has been 61 cm/2 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Australian ichthyologist Gilbert Percy Whitley originally described the Australian Sawtail catshark as Pristiurus boardmani, in a 1928 issue of the scientific journal Records of the Australian Museum, and placed it within his newly created subgenus Figaro. Whitley named the species after his friend and colleague William Boardman, who collected the first known specimens, including the holotype: a 54 cm/1.8-foot-long adult male trawled by the Bar-ea-mul on 18 July 1925, northeast of Montague Island off New South Wales. Both Pristiurus and Figaro have generally been considered junior synonyms of the genus Galeus. In 2008, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) researchers Daniel Gledhill, Peter Last, and William White resurrected Figaro, with F. boardmani as the type species.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is wide and arched, with furrows of medium length at each corner. The teeth are small, each with a long central cusp and multiple smaller cusplets on each side.

Head: The snout is short and narrow, with a somewhat angular profile from above. The eyes are horizontally oval and equipped with nictitating membranes. Beneath the eye is a thin ridge, and behind is a tiny spiracle. The nostrils have triangular flaps of skin in front.

Denticles: There is a distinct crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper margin of the tail and along the ventral midline of the caudal peduncle. Small, overlapping dermal denticles cover the body and fins. Each denticle has three marginal teeth.

Tail: The tail is elongated. The caudal fin is short and low, with a small but obvious lower lobe and a ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Australian Sawtail catshark can be found in Australia in the southeast from Queensland to western Australia to Noosa in Queensland, including all of Tasmania (24°S – 44°S). They are found on the outer continental shelf and upper slope at or near the bottom between 492-2,100 feet. They are considered temperate bathydemersal.

Diet: They feed on fish, crustaceans and cephalopods.

Aesthetic Identification: The Australian Sawtail catshark is cylindrical, slim-bodied, greyish in color with a variegated pattern of dark greyish-brown saddles and bars, three broad pale-edged pre-dorsal saddles with a narrower less distinct band between each, a band at and between each dorsal fin, and three broad bands post-dorsally. Bands and saddles sometimes have white specks. The ventral side is pale. The two dorsal fins have rounded apexes, with the first slightly larger than the second. The first and second dorsal fins originate over the rear of the pelvic fin and anal fins. The pectoral fins are broad and moderate in size. The pelvic fins are small and low with an angular shape; in adult males their inner margins are fused to form a subtle “apron” over the claspers. The anal fin is roughly triangular; its base measures 11% of the total length, exceeding the distance between the pelvic and anal fins but not the distance between the dorsal fins.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. Females lay eggs that are enclosed in egg cases or capsules measuring 6.8–7.4 cm/2.7–2.9 inches long, 1.9–2.0 cm/0.75–0.79 inches across, and 8–9 cm/3.1–3.5 inches thick.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: They sometimes can be seen in aggregations by sex.

Australian Sawtail Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. Their range is wide and are common among their range. They are caught incidentally as bycatch by commercial bottom-trawl fisheries, but is not significantly impacted by this.

Australian Sawtail Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.