Familia Pristidae


by M. Stehmann and D. L. Burkel

Large shark-like rays (to 7 m). Snout greatly elongated into a firm doubleedged saw-blade with transverse 'teeth'. Spiracles well behind eyes; nostrils well in front of and completely separated from mouth, which is straight; teeth in jaws numerous and small, forming bands like a pavement. Two large dorsal fins, widely separated; pectoral fins barely enlarged, fused in front to hind part of head, their origin behind level of mouth, their tips ending in front of origin of pelvic fins; caudal fin well developed; tail triangular in cross-section. Entire body, including saw and fins, covered with close-set, minute and flattened ovoid scales (but mostly absent in one Indo-Pacific species); no large tubercles.
Benthic on soft bottoms in shallow coastal waters, in river mouths and estuaries, entering freshwater regularly in all tropical and subtropical areas; commonly caught in some localities and marketed for food, the saws serving as trophies or souvenirs. Feeding on fishes and bottomliving animals, the saw being used for defending or for slashing at schools of fishes. Ovoviviparous.

Genera 1 (probably 2 according to Dingerkus, in prep.).

Note. there is much confusion regarding the identity, number and nomenclature of pristid species, which will be improved by a forthcoming family revision by G. Dingerkus (in preparation).