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Reproduction

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Only a few species of elasmobranch (subclass including all sharks and rays) fishes have been observed during courtship and mating. However, sharks have a system that involves internal fertilization, and elasmobranch fishes have relatively complex endocrine (hormonal) systems. Based on knowledge of other vertebrates with similar systems, it is likely that females signal to males through chemical or behavioral cues to indicate when their hormonal state is appropriate for mating. Some female sharks have been observed behaving in specific ways prior to mating, followed by passive behavior during copulation that permits the biting and grasping behavior of the male. It is likely that some catsharks participate in this pattern. Mating in some sharks lasts for 15 to 20 minutes, but specific information regarding length of copulation in catsharks was not found. In order to inseminate the female, the male inserts into her one of his two claspers, organs that are grooved extensions of the rear bases of the pelvic fins. In most catsharks the clasper groove is covered by soft tissue, forming a tunnel down which semen travels into the female. In at least one species of catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula , the female is able to store sperm for delayed insemination.

At least 90% of known catsharks are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Many of these catsharks produce eggs all year, with seasonal increases in the number of females laying eggs. Most catsharks have a system called single oviparity, in which an egg develops inside each oviduct and is deposited outside the female, remaining attached to the substrate until it hatches. Hatching time may be less than a month or nearly a year. At least one species of Galeus and four species of Halaelurus have multiple oviparity. In this case several eggs develop in each oviduct, and hatching time tends to be shorter (23 to 36 days in Halaelurus lineatus). Catshark egg cases, made from a keratin-like collagen, tend to be rectangular in shape, with rounded sides and narrow ends. Tendrils from each corner help anchor the egg to the substrate. A special gland in the female, unique to elasmobranchs and known as the oviducal, nidamental, or shell gland, produces the egg case.

Although egg cases provide a tough protective shield, developing embryos inside them are still vulnerable to predation. Some sharks have evolved a system called ovoviviparity or aplacental viviparity to protect their young until a later stage of development. It is estimated that oviparity evolved into viviparity at least 18 times within Chondrichthyes (class that includes sharks). Ovoviviparous sharks give birth to live young, and a few members of Scyliorhinidae (from the genera Galeus, Halaelurus, and Cephalurus) fall into this category. In this system, the egg is retained inside the uterus, and the young catshark develops there until it is born directly into the sea and can swim away like a miniature adult. Only one young at a time develops within the uterus. Some ovoviviparous sharks secrete a uterine fluid that supplements the nutrition the developing young receives from the egg. No information was found to verify whether or not ovoviviparous catsharks share this characteristic.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); ovoviviparous ; oviparous

No parental care has been observed in catsharks. Female catsharks contribute extensively to the survival of offspring by protecting them internally during development and even producing secretions that provide nutrition.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

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Untitled

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The earliest known fossils of catsharks date from the Upper Jurassic of Germany. Scyliorhinidae is the oldest group within the order Carcharhiniformes.

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Behavior

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Catsharks, like other elasmobranchs , have a high sensitivity to electric fields created by the movement of water, of other fishes, and even the movement of the earth. In experiments Scyliorhinus canicula, for example, demonstrated sensitivity to extremely low voltage gradients. In principle, sharks can use this sense to navigate according to the earth’s magnetic fields, and to detect prey. The special receptors used for this mode of perception are called the ampullae of Lorenzini, distributed around the shark’s head. Catsharks, like all other fishes, sense their environment hydrodynamically through the lateral line, a series of pores connecting a complex internal canal system with the outside water. They also possess, like other elasmobranchs , pit organs that lie between the bases of scales and add to information provided by the lateral line. Members of the family Scyliorhinidae are raptorial predators, and therefore have keen senses of hearing, taste, and smell that help them sense and find food sources. Experiments on species of Scyliorhinidae suggest that the pineal gland in the brain may serve as a keen light sensor that cues the fish’s behavior to periodic changes in light.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical ; electric

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical ; electric ; magnetic

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Conservation Status

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Sharks in general are vulnerable to overfishing. They grow and mature slowly, and the size of the adult population closely determines the number of young produced, due to their “slow” reproductive strategy of investing a great deal of energy in relatively few young over a lifetime. As of 2001, one species of catshark was listed as vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild), and eight species of catshark were listed as near threatened (approaching vulnerable status). Twenty species were listed as data deficient, meaning that not enough information has been collected to assess whether or not the species is threatened. These species may be threatened, however, especially if their geographic range is limited and few specimens have been found for data collection.

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Life Cycle

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Catsharks begin life inside spindle-shaped egg cases known to beachcombers as “mermaids’ purses.” In most cases the embryo develops, inside its egg case, within the mother’s uterus until it is almost ready to hatch. Then the mother deposits the egg on the sea bottom or other surface. Long, curling tendrils extend from each of the four corners of an egg case to help secure it to the substrate. Slits in the tendrils allow water to flow through the egg case. The young catshark continues to develop until it hatches, looking like a miniature adult. Hatching time ranges from less than a month to more than a year. There is no larval stage. In about 10% of catsharks, from the genera Galeus, Halaelurus, and Cephalurus, the embryo completes its entire development inside the mother and is born directly into the sea. Male carcharhinids, including catsharks, have reached sexual maturity when their clasper (male organ for internally fertilizing a female) cartilages have become calcified and rigid, rather than small, soft, and flexible as in immature males. The presence of large ovaries with follicles marks adulthood in females.

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Comprehensive Description

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The family Scyliorhinidae is the largest shark family, with at least 15 genera and over 100 species. Their common name, catsharks, likely derives from their elongated, cat-like eyes, although their scientific name is based on the Greek words, “Scylla,” meaning “a shark,” and “rhinos,” meaning “nose.” Some members of Scyliorhinidae are also commonly known as dogfish. Members of this family tend to be small, usually less than 1 m long, and are harmless to humans. Most catsharks live in seas above the upper continental slope, a location that makes it difficult to observe these sharks and collect specimens. Therefore, much information about catsharks remains to be discovered.

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Benefits

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Catsharks are harmless to humans. One species, Cephaloscyllium laticeps , apparently can be a nuisance to lobster fishermen in parts of Australia when it enters lobster traps.

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Benefits

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Some catsharks, for example Scyliorhinus in European seas, are important for fisheries. Deepwater species like some members of Apristurus have oil-rich livers but are not currently considered of commercial value. In general, humans capture and eat sharks around the world, but no significant commercial use was described for catsharks in particular. Some of the larger catsharks, like Scyliorhinus cervigoni , are considered sport fish. Other species, like Scyliorhinus canicula , have been used for dissection in British educational institutions.

Positive Impacts: food

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Associations

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Catsharks occur around the globe in warm temperate seas, and therefore are a consistent predator on populations of squid, crustaceans, cephalopods, and small fishes. Catsharks, especially smaller specimens, provide food for other families of sharks and other large fishes.

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Trophic Strategy

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Small fish and invertebrates make up the diet of most catsharks. Some swellsharks, for example Cephaloscyllium ventriosum ( see image), are sluggish bottom feeders that prey on dead or sleeping fish or crustaceans. Others have more active tactics to capture prey. For example, pyjama sharks, ( see image) hide among squid eggs; they wait for the parent squid to become accustomed to a shark among its eggs, then devour the squid when it returns.

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore , Molluscivore , Scavenger )

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Distribution

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Catsharks occur in warmer seas around the globe. Many species of catshark are endemic to certain locations, for example seas off Australia or South Africa. Some, such as Apristurus laurussonii , venture into the Arctic Ocean, but most live between 40 degrees north and south latitudes. Catsharks, along with other members of the order Carcharhiniformes, make up the majority of sharks in many tropical and warm temperate seas.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Native ); neotropical (Native ); australian (Native ); oceanic islands (Native ); arctic ocean (Native ); indian ocean (Native ); atlantic ocean (Native ); pacific ocean (Native ); mediterranean sea (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

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Habitat

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Catsharks most frequently live near the bottom, ranging from shallow intertidal zones to depths of more than 2000 m. Many occur along continental and insular slopes, and this deepwater habitat makes many catsharks difficult to observe and collect. Near Australia, catsharks have been observed inhabiting ledges and caves, seagrass or kelp beds, coastal reefs, and both sandy and rocky bottoms. Some catsharks (members of Parmaturus and probably Cephalurus) are able to live in benthic habitats tolerable to few other fishes: enlarged branchial (gill) regions enable them to survive very low oxygen levels, high temperatures, and high salinity.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; saltwater or marine

Aquatic Biomes: benthic ; coastal

Other Habitat Features: intertidal or littoral

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Life Expectancy

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No specific information was found regarding lifespan in Scyliorhinidae. Sharks in general, however, tend to mature slowly and be long-lived.

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Morphology

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Catsharks (family Scyliorhinidae) are small sharks. Most are less than 80 cm long, but some, i.e. Scyliorhinus cervigoni, attain a length of at least 1.6 m. The bodies of catsharks are fusiform (cylindrical, tapering at the ends) to slightly depressed. The snout may be short or elongated, and sometimes forms a bell shape when seen from above or below. This family has elongated, catlike eyes situated high on the sides of the head. They possess rudimentary nictitating lower eyelids. These membranes, essentially a third eyelid, can cover the exposed portion of the eye, since, as in all sharks, the upper and lower eyelids of catsharks cannot completely cover the eyeball. Catsharks have moderately large spiracles, or respiratory openings, and five pairs of gill slits. Teeth are small and multicuspid, with 40 to 111 rows of teeth in each jaw. In some cases the rear teeth are comblike. In various species of catshark from at least seven genera, females and adult males have different tooth shape. This is called sexual heterodonty, and it occurs most strongly in smaller species of catshark. Adult males in these cases tend to have much larger teeth than females or immature males, and larger, higher, and differently-shaped cusps. One researcher suggests that the modifications of the teeth in adult males may contribute to their ability to grasp a female during courtship. In all catsharks, the base of the first dorsal fin is opposite or behind the base of the first pelvic fin. There are two dorsal fins, both without spines. Anal and caudal fins are also present. Catsharks may be a plain color ranging from grayish to dark brown, or may have color patterns of blotches, spots, or saddles. Like other sharks, catsharks are covered with placoid scales. All sharks have a valvular intestine, and in catsharks the valve has a conicospiral shape, with between five and 21 turns.

Other Physical Features: heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; sexes shaped differently

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Associations

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The most obvious anti-predator tactic among catsharks is that of the swell sharks , who are able to expand themselves enormously by swallowing air or water. All sharks are home to various parasites, especially in the skin, digestive system, and gills. Catsharks fall victim to predators even inside their tough, leathery egg cases, which are eaten by a variety of organisms from snails to possibly whales. Researchers have observed holes made by boring organisms in the egg cases of various species, including Cephaloscyllium ventriosum.

Known Predators:

  • sharks (Chondrichthyes)
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Catshark

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Catsharks are ground sharks of the family Scyliorhinidae. They are one of the largest families of sharks with around 160 species placed in 17 genera.[2] Although they are generally known as catsharks, many species are commonly called dogfish or gato. Like most bottom feeders, they feed on benthic invertebrates and smaller fish. Catsharks are not harmful to humans.

Genera

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Small-spotted catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula

The family includes 17 genera and over 150 species,[1] making it the largest family of sharks.[3]

Cladogram

  • Scyliorhinidae
    • Scyliorhininae
    • Galeinae
      • Pentanchini
      • Galeini
        • Galeina
        • Halelaelurina
    • Atelomycterininae
    • Schroedericthyinae

Anatomy and appearance

Catsharks may be distinguished by their elongated, cat-like eyes and two small dorsal fins set far back. Most species are fairly small, growing no longer than 80 cm (31 in); a few, such as the nursehound (Scyliorhinus stellaris) can reach 1.6 m (5.2 ft) in length. Most of the species have a patterned appearance, ranging from stripes to patches to spots.

Characteristics of genus Apristurus are mostly dark bodies, having a long anal fin that ends in front of where the lower caudal fin begins. The snouts of the members of Apristurus are flat. They also present upper and lower labial furrows.

The sonic hedgehog dentition expression is first found as a bilateral symmetrical pattern and is found in certain areas of the embryonic jaw.[4] Sonic hedgehog (a secreted protein that, in humans, is encoded by the SHH gene) is involved in the growth and patterning of different organs.[5] Every 18–38 days the teeth are replaced as is a common characteristic of the developmental process of sharks.

The "swell sharks" of the genus Cephaloscyllium have the curious ability to fill their stomachs with water or air when threatened, increasing their girth by a factor of one to three.

Some catsharks, such as the chain catshark are biofluorescent.[6][7][8]

Distribution

Catsharks are found around seabeds in temperate and tropical seas worldwide, ranging from very shallow intertidal waters to depths of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) or more, such as the members of genus Apristurus[9] The Red spotted catshark lives in the shallower rocky waters ranging from Peru to Chile and migrate to deeper waters during the winter months.[10] They are usually restricted to small ranges. Juvenile and adult chain dogfish live on the soft or rocky bottom of the Atlantic from Massachusetts to Nicaragua. Adults tend to live on the soft sandy bottoms possibly due to their need of egg deposition sites.[11]

Behavior

Some catsharks do not undergo long distance migrations because they are poor swimmers. Due to being nocturnal, some species sleep close together in crevices throughout the day and then go hunting at night.[2] Some species such as the small spotted catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula, are sexually monomorphic and exhibit habitat segregation, where males and females live in separate areas; males tend to live in open seabeds, while females tend to live in caves.[12] Some species of catsharks may deposit egg cases in structured habitats, which may also act as nurseries for the newly hatched sharks.[11]

Reproduction

 src=
Catshark egg (mermaids' purse)

Many species of catshark, like the chain dogfish, are oviparous and lay eggs in tough egg cases with curly tendrils at each end, known as "mermaid's purses", for protection, onto the seabed.[13] It takes almost a year for a catshark to hatch from the egg. Instead of laying the eggs and letting them sit for a year, some species of catshark hold onto the egg until a few months before the shark hatches. Some catsharks exhibit ovoviviparity, aplacental viviparous, by holding onto the embryos until they are completely developed and then give live birth.[2] Some species of catsharks mate by biting and holding the female’s pectoral fins and wrestle her into a mating position.

Aquaria

The Australian marbled catshark, Atelomycterus macleayi, is a favored type for home aquaria, because it rarely grows to more than 60 cm (24 in) in length. The coral catshark, however, is the most common scyliorhinid in home aquaria.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2009). "Scyliorhinidae" in FishBase. January 2009 version.
  2. ^ a b c Compagno, L. J; Dando, M; Fowler, S. L (2005). Sharks of the world. Princeton University Press. p. 186.
  3. ^ a b Michael, Scott W. (March 2004), "Sharks at Home", Aquarium Fish Magazine, pp. 20–29
  4. ^ Smith, M. M.; Frase, G. J; Chaplin, N.; Hobbs, C.; Graham, A. (April 7, 2009). "Reiterative pattern of sonic hedgehog expression in the catshark dentition reveals a phylogenetic template for jawed vertebrates". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 276 (1660): 1225–1233. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1526. PMC 2660956. PMID 19141424.
  5. ^ Dassule, Helene; Lewis, Paula; Bei, Marianna; Maas, Richard; McMahon, Andrew (October 24, 2000). "Sonic Hedgehog regulates growth and morphogenesis of the tooth". Development.
  6. ^ "Scientists Discover 180 Species of Glowing Fish". Retrieved 2015-07-08.
  7. ^ "Sharks Light Up in Neon Colors". video.nationalgeographic.com. Retrieved 2015-07-08.
  8. ^ Sparks, John S.; Schelly, Robert C.; Smith, W. Leo; Davis, Matthew P.; Tchernov, Dan; Pieribone, Vincent A.; Gruber, David F. (January 8, 2014). "The Covert World of Fish Biofluorescence: A Phylogenetically Widespread and Phenotypically Variable Phenomenon". PLoS ONE. 9 (1): e83259. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0083259. PMC 3885428. PMID 24421880.
  9. ^ Gomes, U. L.; Signori, C. N.; Gadig, O. B. (2006). "Report on the smallfin catshark Apristurus parvipinnis Springer & Heemstra (Chondrichthyes, Scyliorhinidae) in Western South Atlantic with notes on its taxonomy". Panamjas.
  10. ^ Farina, Jose M.; Ojeda, F. Patricio (May 3, 1993). "Abundance, Activity, and Trophic Patterns of the Redspotted Catshark, Schroederichthys chilensis, on the Pacific Temperate Coast of Chile". Copeia. 1993 (2): 545–549. doi:10.2307/1447159. JSTOR 1447159.
  11. ^ a b Able, K.W.; Flescher, D (1991). "Distribution and Habitat of Chain Dogfish, Scyliorhinus retifer, in the Mid-Atlantic Bight". Copeia. 1991 (1): 231–234. doi:10.2307/1446270. JSTOR 1446270.
  12. ^ Wearmouth, V. J; Southall, E. J; Morritt, D; Thompson, R. C; Cuthill, I. C; Partridge, J. C.; Sims, D. W. (2012). "Year-round sexual harassment as a behavioral mediator of vertebrate population dynamics". Ecological Monographs. 82 (3): 351–366. doi:10.1890/11-2052.1.
  13. ^ Castro, J. I; Bubucis, P. M; Overstrom, N. A (1988). "The Reproductive Biology of the Chain Dogfish, Scyliorhinus retifer". Copeia. 1988 (3): 740. doi:10.2307/1445396. JSTOR 1445396.

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Catshark: Brief Summary

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Catsharks are ground sharks of the family Scyliorhinidae. They are one of the largest families of sharks with around 160 species placed in 17 genera. Although they are generally known as catsharks, many species are commonly called dogfish or gato. Like most bottom feeders, they feed on benthic invertebrates and smaller fish. Catsharks are not harmful to humans.

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Distribution

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Distribution: temperate and tropical seas. Usually elongated, catlike eyes with nictitating eyelids. Lower eyelid usually with longitudinal fold. Gill openings 5, the fifth over origin of pectoral fin. Two small, spineless dorsal fins. One of the largest family of sharks, occurring from the intertidal zone to the edges of the continental and insular shelves and down the slopes to depths greater than 2000 m. Spawns large eggs in tough egg-cases with tendrils. Some species are ovoviviparous. Feed mainly on invertebrates and small fishes.
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MASDEA (1997).
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