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Filetail catshark

Filetail catshark

Not on Exhibit

Animal Facts

  • Scientific Name

    Parmaturus xaniurus

  • Animal Type


  • Diet

    crustaceans, cephalopods, fishes

  • Size

    to 2 feet long (60 cm)

  • Relatives

    skates, sharks and rays

  • Habitat

    Deep Sea

  • Range

    seafloor, 300-4,100 feet (90-1,250 m)

Natural History

The filetail catshark gets its common name from the toothlike projections on its skin. Catsharks in general are relatively small, usually 12 to 39 inches long (30-100 cm), with flat heads and long, catlike eyes. Their teeth are very small and they have several rows of teeth in each jaw.

When a light shines on a catshark's eyes, they glow—much like a cat's eyes do. That's because cats and sharks have special light-sensitive eyes designed for hunting in near-darkness. A catshark is always on the prowl. When a fish or squid swims nearby, the catshark lunges with its mouth wide open—and makes a quick meal of its prey.


Sharks, skates and rays live longer and produce fewer offspring than most other kinds of fishes, and that makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. Declining catch rates indicate that shark populations are rapidly decreasing in many parts of the world.

Cool Facts

It takes two years for catsharks to emerge from their egg cases.

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