A little-known shark with comb-like teeth around some Pacific Islands

The Combtooth dogfish (Centroscyllium nigrum) is a little-known, deepwater shark belonging to the family Etmopteridae. They are found scarcely over a few island systems in the eastern Pacific.


Family: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks

Genus: Centroscyllium 

Species: nigrum


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Etmopteridae

Common NameLantern Sharks




Average Size and Length: Adult males have been recorded between 1.1-1.4 feet. Adult females are anywhere the size of a male to at least 1.6 feet. It is suggested that they are born between 4-5 inches/11-13 cm.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is short and broadly arched with comblike teeth in both jaws.

Head: They have very large eyes, closer to the tip of the snout than the first gill slit.

Tail: The caudal peduncle is short.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Combtooth dogfish can be found in the central and eastern Pacific in the Hawaiian Islands found on the American continental shelf. They are also found in Cocos and in the Galapagos Islands. They can be found on or near the bottom on continental and insular slopes between 1,312-3,750 feet.

Diet: Feeds chiefly on other fishes and invertebrates.

Aesthetic Identification: The Combtooth dogfish has a stout, uniformly blackish-brown body with a short abdomen. There are prominent white fin tips and margins. The gill slits are small. The dorsal fins are smaller in size. The first grooved fin spine is short and the second grooved fin spine is longer. It is as high, but just in front of the fin apex. The origin is over or in front of the pelvic fin insertions. There is no anal fin.

Biology and Reproduction: They are presumably ovoviviparous. The number of young per litter hasn’t been confirmed yet.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Combtooth Dogfish Future and Conservation: Not enough data to evaluate, but they are of little interest to fisheries. They are sometimes caught as bycatch.

Combtooth Dogfish Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.