A tail as rough as a file

The New Zealand Filetail or McMillans catshark (Parmaturus macmillani) is a catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. McMillan’s catshark, or the New Zealand Filetail is a small, rare and little-known deep-water shark. It is only known from 5 female specimens. Two were found in the deep waters of the lower continental slope around New Zealand, on the West Norfolk Ridge and off North Cape, and three off the southern coast of Madagascar.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Parmaturus 

Species: macmillani


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Each egg case measures 5.2 x 3 cm. The length of mature males is unknown. Mature females have been measured between 52-53 cm/1.7 feet. The maximum is more than likely greater than 53 cm/1.7 feet.

Head: The snout is short and blunt. There are ridges under the eyes. There are elongated lobate anterior nasal flaps.

Denticles: There is a crest of saw-like dermal denticles along the caudal fin, but not below.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The New Zealand Filetail or McMillan’s catshark can be found in northern New Zealand and the submarine ridge of south Madagascar. It has been captured in deep water between 3,117-3,291 feet. They may even be found deeper. Two of the five females were found in New Zealand, and the other three in Madagascar. They are considered bathydemersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The New Zealand Filetail or McMillan’s catshark has a soft, flabby grey body, and lighter ventrally. The fins have dusky webs. The gills are not greatly enlarged. The first dorsal fin is about as large as the second dorsal fin. The origin of the first dorsal fin is opposite or just behind the pelvic origins. The second dorsal fin is smaller than the anal fin. The insertion is slightly behind the insertion of the anal fin.

Biology and Reproduction: They are oviparous. They lay pairs of egg cases (one per oviduct) that are stout-shelled, without tendrils.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

New Zealand Filetail or McMillan’s Catshark Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate; they are only known from 5 females.

New Zealand Filetail or McMillan’s Catshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: They are not a threat to humans.