With clown camouflage, this shark may not particularly be a fan of clowns

The Magnificent catshark or Clown catshark (Proscyllium magnificum) is a species of Finback catshark, belonging to the family Proscylliidae. It is known only from five specimens that have been found on the outer continental shelf of Myanmar. The Magnificent catshark or Clown catshark is truly a sight to see. Its color pattern of small and large darks spots begins to resemble clown faces just below the dorsal fins.

Family: Proscylliidae – Finback Catsharks

Genus: Proscyllium 

Species: magnificum


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Proscylliidae

Common NameFinback Catsharks




Average Size and Length: Hatchling length or the length at birth is unknown. Mature males have been measured between 47-49 cm/1.5-1.6 feet. The total length of females is unknown. The maximum recorded is 49 cm/1.6 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The first specimens of the Magnificent catshark were caught during a 1989 joint Thai-Burmese survey of the Myanmar continental shelf and described by Peter Last and Vararin Vongpanich in a 2004 issue of the Phuket Marine Biological Center Research Bulletin. Its specific epithet is derived from the Latin magnificus (“noble” or “splendid”) and refers to its “strikingly beautiful” coloration. The type specimen is a female 49 cm long, collected by Weera Pokapunt aboard the FRTV Chulabhorn.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth forms a long, wide arch with very short furrows at the corners. The lower labial furrow is more than twice (2.7-3.7 times) the length of the upper furrow. The teeth are tiny with typically three cusps in males and five cusps in females, with the central cusp being the longest. The upper teeth are exposed when the mouth is closed. There are over 80 tooth rows in the upper jaw.

Head: The head is short and flattened. The head tapers to a short, slightly bell-shaped snout. There is a large lobe of skin in front of each large nostril. The incurrent openings are tubular in appearance. The internarial space is only slightly shorter than the nostril width. The large, horizontally oval eyes are placed moderately high on the head and have nictitating membranes, with prominent ridges underneath.

Denticles: The skin is covered by overlapping dermal denticles. The dermal denticle crowns are narrow and placed on narrow stalks, with three teeth on their posterior margins.

Tail: The caudal fin is short, with a barely developed lower lobe and a distinct, enlarged tip on the upper lobe. The dorsal margin of the caudal fin is about twice (1.9-2 times) the length of the second dorsal fin.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Magnificent catshark or Clown catshark can be found in the Indian Ocean in the Andaman Sea off of Myanmar or Burma. They can be found near the edge of the outer continental shelf at a depth of 463 to greater than 656 feet. They are considered tropical pelagic-oceanic.

Aesthetic Identification: The Magnificent catshark or Clown catshark is similar to the Graceful catshark, but with a much more variegated pattern of small and large spots and dots, including clusters of two small round spots above a large upcurved spot and an intermediate small spot forming what look like clown faces below the dorsal fins. The ventral side varies from plain white to grayish with faint blotches. The body is slender, firm and thin in shape. There are five pairs of gill slits. Papillae are present on the gill arches. The snout to cloaca length is more than twice (2.1-2.3 times) interdorsal distance. The first dorsal fin is placed behind the pectoral fins but ahead of the pelvic fins. The second originates roughly above the rear of the anal fin base. The two dorsal fins are triangular with rounded apexes and gently concave trailing margins. The first dorsal fin is slightly larger than the second dorsal fin. The height of second dorsal fin is about twice (1.9-2.1 times) the height of the anal fin. The interdorsal distance is subequal to the head length. The pectoral and pelvic fins have rounded tips, with the former much larger and broader than the latter. The pelvic fins of males have rather elongated, blunt-tipped claspers. The low, triangular anal fin is much smaller than either dorsal fin.

Biology and Reproduction: Virtually unknown, but the monospondylous centra is 38-39; with total centra of 140-143.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.  

Speed: More thank likely slow moving.

Magnificent Catshark or Clown Catshark Future and Conservation: There is currently not enough data to evaluate. The Magnificent catshark or Clown catshark is only known from five specimens.

Magnificent Catshark or Clown Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.