The Bullhead, or Horn Shark Family

Members of the heterodontidae family are also known as bullhead sharks or horn sharks.

Horn Shark

The family is made up of one genus and nine species.

  • Crested Bullhead Shark
  • Galapagos Bullhead Shark
  • Horn Shark
  • Japanese Bullhead Shark
  • Mexican Horn Shark
  • Oman Bullhead Shark
  • Port Jackson Shark
  • Whitespotted Bullhead Shark
  • Zebra Bullhead Shark

These sharks belong to the the order Heterodontiformes. They are ancient sharks and the order has good fossil records, but the Heterodontidae make up the only living family.


  • General body shape - I just love the faces on these little guys. They have short stubby little snouts and look kind of 'piggy'.

    They're small sharks, most of them being less than 100cm long, though the Port Jackson may grow to over a metre and a half.
  • Eyes - The eyes are set in prominent eye ridges and have no nictitating membranes.
  • Teeth - The name means different, or other, teeth. It's derived from the fact that these sharks have little pointy teeth at the front of their mouths for holding on to prey, and large blunt ones at the back for crushing it.

    They are benthic feeders and eat mainly invertebrates such as sea urchins, crabs and molluscs.
  • Gills - They have five pairs of gills, with the first ones being larger than the others. They also have small spiracles behind the eyes.
  • Fins - They have two dorsal fins, both with spines, an anal fin, an asymmetrical caudal fin with well developed upper and lower lobes, and paddle shaped pectoral and pelvic fins.

    The cool thing about these little guys is that they don't just use their fins for swimming. They can also 'walk' along the seabed.

Bullhead sharks are all oviparous and lay distinct looking spiral shaped egg cases. The pups usually hatch after about 5 months. The egg cases often become wedged between rocks on the seabed.

They're sluggish sharks and tend to be slow. Some spend their days hanging out in caves and crevices, coming out at night to feed.

These sharks are generally not targeted by commercial fisheries, but they are vulnerable to bycatch. Sports fishermen and spear fishermen have also been known to take them.

Return to World of Sharks from Heterodontidae

Port Jackson Shark Jaws

Port Jackson Jaws

Horn Shark Egg Cas

Horn Shark Egg Case

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