A bite-sized catshark

The Dwarf Catshark Asymbolus (Asymbolus parvus) is a shark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae, found only off the coast of northwestern Australia. It is a tiny shark, preferring tropical waters. It is not to be confused with the Dwarf Catshark Scyliorhinus (Scyliorhinus torrei).


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Asymbolus 

Species: parvus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Males have been measured around 28 cm/11 inches. The longest recorded has been 33 cm/1 foot.

Teeth and Jaw: There are short labial furrows along the jaws, and tiny teeth. The teeth have 5-7 cusps. 1 long pointed center cusp and smaller cusplets on the outer. They appear burr-like.

Head: The head is short, slightly flattened, pointed and rounded. The snout is short and thick. There are narrow ridges below the eyes.

Denticles: There are small, densely imbricated, weakly tricuspidate denticles.

Tail: The caudal fin is short and broad.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Dwarf catshark can be found in northwestern Australia in tropical waters. They can be found on the bottom on the outer continental shelf and upper slope between 194-827 feet. They are considered demersal, pelagic-oceanic.

Aesthetic Identification: The Dwarf catshark (Asymbolus) is an extremely small shark. It is pale brown with numerous white spots and lines and faint dark saddles or bands. These are most obvious on the tail. There are no dark spots or blotches on the ventral side. There are 2 small dorsal fins that are set behind the pelvic fins and an anal fin. The inner margins of the pelvic fins are fused over the claspers in male adults, which forms an apron. The anal fin is short and angular.

Biology and Reproduction: Mostly unknown, but possibly oviparous. The monospondylous centra count is between 34-35.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Dwarf Catshark Future and Conservation: They are currently of least concern. They are caught infrequently as bycatch. They are thought to be hardy and survive well after they have been discarded.

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