Somniosus microcephalus is a large, sluggish shark that averages between 2 and 4 meters in length. Most of the body is a medium grey or brown in color and sometimes exhibits dark transverse bands or small spots or blotches that are lighter or darker than the base color. The snout is short and rounded, and the body is heavy and cylindrical in shape with small precaudal fins. No spines are present in the two equally-sized dorsal fins, and the ventral lobe of the caudal fin is slightly elongated. No anal fin is present. The skin is quite rough, exhibiting denticles with curved pointed cusps. Teeth in the upper and lower jaws differ in shape; upper teeth are spear-shaped while the lower teeth are shaped with high roots and low bent cusps for slicing. (Compagno and Fowler, 2005; Compagno, 1984)
- Compagno, L. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue Volume 4:Sharks of the World. Rome: United Nations Development Programme.
- Compagno, L., S. Fowler. 2005. Sharks of the World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.