Creature Feature: American Sawshark (Pristiophorus schroederi)

Scientist are always trying to discover, create, learn, implement, and protect. The ocean is vast and there are many unknown organisms, and many more about which little is known. One of these little known species is the American Sawshark (Pristiophorus schroederi).

To understand some common characteristics of sawsharks, we can look to the Australian relative of the American Sawshark, the Common Sawshark (Pristiophorus cirratus), about which more is known. The Common Sawshark, as well as all sawsharks, can be recognized by their saw-like snout with a pair of barbels that helps them to find food in sandy-bottom habitats. Sawsharks are often confused with sawfishes because of their saw-like snout. The pair of sensory barbels set sawsharks apart; sawfishes lack the barbels. Additionally, sawfish have 5 pairs of gill slits on the bottom side of their bodies, compared to the gill slits along the sides of sawsharks.

Common Sawsharks are ovoviviparous (females carry eggs that hatch internally and give birth to live young).  A female shark carries 10 pups at a time on average. Pups are up to 14.5” when they are born.

American Sawsharks likely share many similarities in their life history and morphology to other sawsharks such as the Common Sawshark. However, information specific to this species is not well documented. No one has studied their reproduction, life span, or migration/range.

This is an excellent example of how little we know and how much more there is to explore in the ocean! New species are seen in the ocean and throughout the world nearly every day, and many go unstudied and misunderstood. Who knows what we will find next!


Edited by Felicia Van Stolk
Tricas, Timothy C., Kevin Deacon, Peter Last, John E. McCosker, Terence I. Walker, Leighton Taylr. A Guide to Sharks & Rays. San Francisco: Fog City Press, 2002. Print.



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