ORDER-PRISTIOPHORIFORMES

Taxonomy:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Chondrichthyes

Subclass: Elasmobranchii

Infraclass: Euselachii

Superorder: Selachimorpha

Order: Pristiophoriformes

 

Pristiophoriformes or Sawsharks are most recognized for their long, saw-like rostrum edged with sharp teeth (which are actually a form of dermal denticles), that they use for various functions like to search for, slash and disable prey. The teeth of the saw typically alternate between large and small in juveniles.  They have long nasal barbels, which extend from about halfway up the saw. They have two dorsal fins, but lack anal fins. Most sawfish have 5 gill slits, however one of them has 6 (Genus: Pliotrema). Sawsharks reach a length of up to 5 feet and a weight of 18.7 pounds with females tending to be slightly larger than males. The body of a Longnose saw shark is covered in tiny placoid scales: modified teeth covered in hard enamel. The body is a yellow-brown color which is sometimes covered in dark spots or blotches. This coloration allows the sawshark to easily blend with the sandy ocean floor.

Sawsharks typically feed on small fish, squid, and crustaceans, depending on species. They navigate the ocean floor using the barbels on the saw to detect prey in mud or sand, then hit prey with side-to-side swipes of the saw. The saw can also be utilized against other predators in defense. The saw is covered with ampullae of Lorenzini, which detect an electric field given off by other organisms. Sawsharks are ovoviviparous, and they have 3-22 pups every 2 years. Gestation is 12 months long.

Sawsharks are found in many areas around the world but are most commonly found in waters from the Indian Ocean to the southern Pacific Ocean. They are normally found at depths around 130 feet to 330 feet but can be found at much lower depths in tropical regions. The Bahamas sawshark was discovered in deeper waters 2,030 to 3,000 feet of the northwestern Caribbean.

Sawsharks are not to be confused with sawfish.