Pristoidei (sawfishes)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Chondrichthyes > Elasmobranchii > Batoidei > Rajiformes  

Large tropical sharklike rays with long saw-snouts, small pectoral fins, stout flat bodies, thick tails, large caudal fins, and 2 large dorsal fins. Sawfish are livebearing. A single family, Pristidae, with 4 or more species, 3 in the area. Sawsharks (p. 34) are slimmer, with smaller saw-teeth, rostral barbels, and the gill slits on the sides of the head as in other sharks.

Species found in Southern Africa

Pristis microdon (Greattooth sawfish)

A heavy-bodied sawfish with a short, massive saw, this broad-based, strongly tapering, and with 14 to 22 very large teeth on each side. Space between last two saw-teeth on a side less than 2 times that between first two teeth. Pectoral fins high and angular, 1st dorsal mostly in front of pelvic fins, caudal fin with a pronounced lower lobe. Colour greenish, grey or golden-brown above, cream below.

Pristis pectinata (Smalltooth sawfish)

A slender sawfish with a long narrow, slightly tapering saw, with 21 to 28 (possibly to 34) small teeth on each side. Space between last two saw-teeth on a side is between 2 to 4 times that between the first two teeth. Pectoral fins low and angular, 1st dorsal over pelvic fins, caudal fin without a lower lobe. Colour green, grey or dark brown above, cream below

Pristis pristis (Common sawfish)

 

Pristis zijsron (Green sawfish)

A slender sawfish with a long, extremely narrow, slightly tapering saw, with 23 to 32 pairs of small teeth. Space between last two saw-teeth on a side is 4 to 8 times that between the first two teeth (2 to 3 times in young). Pectoral fins low and rounded, 1st dorsal partly behind pelvic fins, caudal fin without a pronounced lower lobe. Colour greenish above, cream below.

Text by Leonard J.V. Compagno, David A. Ebert and Malcolm J. Smale


  Iziko Museums of Cape Town, 2008

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