A shark with saddles and saws

The Northern Sawtail catshark (Figaro striatus or Galeus sp. B) is a little-known species of catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is endemic to northeastern Australia. It is demersal in nature and inhabits the upper continental slope at a depth of 1,017-1,378 feet. The Northern Sawtail catshark is small, and characterized by a series of dark, narrow saddles along its back and tail, and rows of prominently enlarged dermal denticles along the upper edge of its caudal fin and the underside of its caudal peduncle.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Figaro  or Galeus 

Species: striatus or sp. B


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks

GenusFigaro or Galeus

Speciesstriatus or sp. B


Average Size and Length: Mature males have been measured at 38 cm/1.2 feet. The maximum is at least 41 cm/1.3 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The first known specimens of the Northern Sawtail catshark were collected during exploratory surveys conducted off northeastern Australia in the 1980s, and provisionally termed Galeus sp. B. It was formally described by Daniel Gledhill, Peter Last, and William White in a 2008 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) publication, in which they also resurrected the genus Figaro, until then considered a junior synonym of Galeus. The specific epithet striatus means “striped” in Latin. The type specimen is a 42 cm/17-inch-long adult male caught south of the Saumarez Reefs, Queensland, on November 17, 1985.

Teeth and Jaw: The mouth is large and arched, with short but prominent furrows around each corner. There are around 65 upper and 61–65 lower tooth rows. Each tooth has a narrow central cusp flanked by 3–5 smaller cusplets.

Head: The head is short, narrow, and flattened, with a bluntly pointed snout. The eyes are horizontally oval and have nictitating membranes. Beneath each is a narrow ridge, and behind is a tiny spiracle. The anterior rims of the nostrils are enlarged into triangular, outward-pointing flaps.

Denticles: There is a distinct crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the upper and lower margins of the tail. The body and fins are entirely covered by minute, overlapping dermal denticles; each has an ovoid crown with a horizontal ridge leading to a marginal cusp.

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

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Northern Sawtail catshark can be found off northeastern Australia between Rockhampton and Townsville, off the continental shelf at the bottom between 1,017-1,378 feet. It is considered demersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Northern Sawtail catshark is pale greyish-brown with 10-16 darker, pale-edged saddles and bars in front of the first dorsal fin. The bars below the dorsal fin have pale centers. The ventral side, and much of the sides and lower fins are uniformly pale. The dorsal and upper caudal fins are dusky with pale trailing edges. The Northern Sawtail catshark has a firm, thin body with a mostly cylindrical cross-section. There are five pairs of gill slits; the fourth and fifth are located over the pectoral fin bases and closer together than the others. The small dorsal fins have blunt apexes and straight to gently convex trailing margins. The first is slightly taller but shorter-based than the second. The origin of the first and second dorsal fins lie over the rear of the pelvic fins and anal fin. The pectoral fins are small and broad, with rounded corners. The pelvic fins are long and low. Adult males have slender claspers and a slight apron formed from the fusion of the pelvic fin inner margins. The anal fin is elongated, its base measuring roughly a tenth of the total length, and angular. The length of the anal fin base exceeds the distance between the anal and pelvic fins, and is comparable to the distance between the dorsal fins.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown, but possibly oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Northern Sawtail Catshark Future and Conservation: There is not enough data to evaluate. There is little fishing within its range. Its range is small.

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