A prehistoric freshwater shark

Xenacanthus is a genus of prehistoric sharks. The first species of the genus lived in the later Devonian period, and they survived until the end of the Triassic, 202 million years ago. Research suggests it was a freshwater shark.

Family: †Xenacanthidae

Genus: †Xenacanthus

Species: †decheni


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles

Order– Xenacanthida

Family– †Xenacanthidae

Genus– †Xenacanthus

Species– †decheni

Status: EXTINCT. Xenacanthus inhabited the Earth from the late Devonian to the mid-Permian/end of Triassic period, 202 million years ago. They were some of the first freshwater sharks.

Average Size and Length: Research suggests Xenacanthus was about 3 feet long.

Current Rare Mythical Sightings: Xenacanthus was shown in 2015 on River Monsters “Prehistoric Terror”. It was nicknamed the “eel shark” (which also occasionally is a name used for the frilled shark). The show’s host, Jeremy Wade, goes into an in-depth investigation into the habits of the animal, exploring its probable nature as an ambush predator that hunted in fresh water (River Monsters, 2015).

Teeth and Jaw: The teeth had an unusual “V” shape.

Head: Xenacanthus had a distinctive spine projected from the back of the head. The spike has even been speculated to have been venomous, perhaps in a similar manner to a sting ray. This is quite plausible as the rays are close relatives to the sharks.

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: Xenacanthus has a very broad distribution and is present in the fossil record for a long time, and across many continents. Fossils have been found all over the world. Research suggests it was a freshwater shark.

Diet: Xenacanthus probably fed on small crustaceans and heavily scaled palaeoniscid fishes.

Aesthetic Identification: The dorsal fin was ribbonlike and ran the entire length of the back and round the tail, where it joined with the anal fin. This arrangement resembles that of modern conger eels.

Speed:  Research suggests that it probably swam much like today’s conger eels.