The claspers are uncharacteristically long

The Phallic catshark (Galeus priapus) is a species of catshark belonging to the family Scyliorhinidae. It is found on or near the ocean floor, in the deep waters off New Caledonia and Vanuatu. It is characterized by a long caudal fin with a crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal margin, and very long claspers in adult males. This shark is gray-colored, with four dark saddles along the back and tail.


Family: Scyliorhinidae – Catsharks

Genus: Galeus

Species: priapus


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles


Common NameGround Sharks

Family– Scyliorhinidae

Common NameCatsharks




Average Size and Length: Adult males have been recorded at 39 cm/1.2 feet. The longest recorded is 46 cm/1.5 feet.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: The first specimens of G. priapus were collected in the 1990s, during a series of Indo-Pacific research cruises jointly undertaken by the Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) and the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (MNHN). Bernard Séret and Peter Last described the new species in a 2008 volume of the scientific journal Zootaxa. It was given the specific epithet priapus after the Greek fertility god Priapos, in reference to the distinctively long claspers of males. The type specimen is a 39 cm/15-inch-long adult male trawled by the RV Alis off New Caledonia on March 30, 1994. Within the genus, this species most closely resembles the Slender Sawtail catshark (G. gracilis).

Teeth and Jaw: The interior lining of the mouth is blackish on the roof and white elsewhere. The mouth is large and wide, and is broadly arched. There are long, well-developed furrows that wrap around each corner of the mouth. The tooth rows number around 60 in either jaw. The teeth have a narrow central cusp flanked by 1–2 pairs of smaller cusplets.

Head: The head has a long, narrow parabolic shape from above. The small, horizontal eyes are placed rather high on the head, and has nictitating membranes. Beneath each eye is a prominent ridge, and behind is a tiny spiracle. The anterior rims of the nostrils have triangular flaps of skin.

Denticles: There is a crest of enlarged dermal denticles along the dorsal margin. The dermal denticles are small and overlapping, each with a median ridge and three marginal teeth on the crown.

Tail: The caudal fin is long, with a small lower lobe and a deep ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: The Phallic catshark is found off New Caledonia and Vanuatu. They have been recorded from a depth of 2,034-2,731 feet on the slopes of seamounts and submarine ridges off New Caledonia, between the Loyalty Islands and the Norfolk Ridge, as well as from a depth of 860-1,155 feet off Espiritu Santo Island in Vanuatu. They are considered demersal.

Aesthetic Identification: The Phallic catshark is a firm-bodied, very slender and slim shark. There are five pairs of gill slits. It is grey with four dark saddles along the back and tail. The leading margins of the pectoral fins are distinctly black, while the trailing margins of the dorsal and anal fins are whitish. The ventral side is pale and unmarked. The dorsal fins vary in shape, with the first is marginally larger than the second. The first dorsal fin originates over the posterior half of the pelvic fins, while the second originates over the middle of the anal fin. The pectoral fins are fairly large and wide, with rounded tips. The pelvic fins are short and low. Adult males have characteristically long, thin claspers measuring roughly 10–11% of the total length. The anal fin is relatively small, with its base measuring 8–10% of the total length.

Biology and Reproduction: Unknown but possibly oviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Unknown.

Phallic Catshark Future and Conservation: They are of least concern.

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