Creature Feature: Iceland Catshark

Iceland catfish web

Today we are going to talk about a species of shark that is a part of a very chaotic genus. If you have heard of the scientific concept “taxonomy” then you may know what a genus is. Taxonomy is the practice and science of classification. When looking at different sharks, scientists notice the way they look, where they live, and in recent years, their genetics to help classify them and put them into categories. These categories are known as Nomenclature. It starts with the broadest category of Kingdom then Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and the most detailed and specific category of Species. Click here to see a colorful view of human taxonomy.

Iceland catsharkApristurus is a large genus of shark which encompasses 32 described species and a large number of undescribed species. The Iceland Catshark (Apristurus laurussonii) belongs to the defined group of brunneus which possess the key characteristics of a short, wide snout. Other characteristics of the Iceland Catshark include the bell shape body and short gill slits. No whiskers though. MEOW!

The Catshark is found in the Northwest and Western Central Atlantic along continental slope in depths up to 2060 meters which equals 6,758.33 feet or 1.28 miles.

Because it lives at such cold and considerable depths, this shark is sluggish and quite small, reaching a maximum of 72cm (2.3622 feet). Icelandic Catsharks are known to be a common deep water shark but surprisingly little is still known about this species.

Join us next week as we look at evolution of sharks, highlighting one exciting species in particular.

Edited by KC O’Shea
Images from and
Duffy, C. & Huveneers, C. 2007. Apristurus laurussonii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. <>. Downloaded on 02 June 2015.


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