Types of Sharks
There are many
different types of sharks.
In fact, they come in so many shapes and
sizes you would be hard pushed to recognise some of them as sharks.
That said, although the details may vary, they do all share certain
Types of Sharks - Classification
Sharks belong to the
class Chondrichthyes, or cartilaginous fish. This means that they
have a skeleton made from cartilage rather than bone. Cartilaginous
fish are divided into two subclasses, Elasmobranchii and Holocephali.
We’re interested in
the Elasmobranchs as this class contains the sharks, along with rays
and skates. The class Holocephali contains chimeras.
plate- or ribbon-like gills) are divided into orders. Each order contains several types of sharks divided further into families and species. Rays and
skates belong to the order Rajiformes while sharks belong to the
- Carcharhiniformes, or
Ground Sharks – Members of this order have the following
characteristics in common: They have a nictitating membrane which can
be closed to protect the eye, the mouth is set behind the front of
the eyes, they have 5 gill slits, an anal fin and 2 dorsal fins, eg. Silvertip.
- Heterodontiformes, or Bullhead Sharks, also have 5 gill slits, an anal fin and 2 dorsal fins. They also have dorsal spines present, eg. Port Jackson.
- Hexanchiformes, or Cow and Frilled Sharks, have 6 or 7 gill slits, an anal fin and only one dorsal fin, eg. Sixgill Cowshark.
- Lamniformes, or Mackerel Sharks.
Like the Carcharhiniformes, Lamniformes have a mouth that is set behind
the front of the eyes however, unlike them, they have no nictitating
membrane. They also have 5 gill slits, an anal fin and 2 dorsal fins,
- Orectolobiformes, or Carpet Sharks, have a mouth set well in front of the eyes. They also have 5 gill slits, an anal fin and 2 dorsal fins, eg. Spotted Wobbegong.
- Pristiophoriformes, or Sawsharks,
have 5 or 6 gill slits, no anal fin and 2 dorsal fins. They also have a
long saw-shaped snout, hence the name, eg. Sixgill Sawshark.
- Squaliformes, or Dogfish Sharks, have 5 gill slits, no anal fin and 2 dorsal fins with dorsal fin spines, eg. Piked Dogfish.
- Squatiniformes, or Angel Sharks, have a flattened body, 5 gill slits, no anal fin, and 2 dorsal fins, eg. Australian Angelshark.
This is a very broad overview of sharks. We’ll be looking at individual species in more detail as this site grows. Please keep checking our ‘What’s New’ page for regular updates.
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