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Bullhead shark

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Title: Bullhead shark  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Galapagos bullhead shark, Port Jackson shark, Whitespotted bullhead shark, Shark, Horn shark
Collection: Early Jurassic First Appearances, Heterodontidae, Living Fossils
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Bullhead shark

Bullhead shark
Temporal range: 183–0 Ma Early Toarcian to Present.
Horn shark, Heterodontus francisci
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Superorder: Selachimorpha
Order: Heterodontiformes
L. S. Berg, 1940
Family: Heterodontidae
J. E. Gray, 1851
Genus: Heterodontus
Blainville, 1816

See text.

The Bullhead sharks are a small order (Heterodontiformes) of basal modern sharks (Neoselachii). There are nine living species in a single genus, Heterodontus, in the family Heterodontidae. All are relatively small, with the largest species being just 150 centimetres (59 in) in adult length. They are bottom feeders in tropical and subtropical waters.

The Heterodontiforms appear in the fossil record in the Early Jurassic, well before any of the other Galeomorphii, a group that includes all modern sharks except the dogfish and its relatives. However, they have never been common, and it is likely that their origin lies even further back.


  • Description 1
  • Species 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5


Bullhead shark egg case

The Bullhead Sharks are morphologically rather distinctive. The mouth is located entirely anterior to the orbits. Labial cartilages are found in the most anterior part of the mouth. Nasoral grooves are present, connecting the external nares to the mouth. The nasal capsules are "trumpet-shaped" and well-separated from orbits. Circumnarial skin folds are present; but the rostral process of the neurocranium (braincase) is absent, although a precerebral fossa is present. Finally, the braincase bears a supraorbital crest.

The eyes lack a nictitating membrane. A spiracle is present, but small. The dorsal ends of the fourth and fifth branchial arches are attached, but not fused into a "pickaxe" as in lamniform sharks. Heterodontiforms have two dorsal fins, with fin spines, as well as an anal fin. The dorsal and anal fins also contain basal cartilages, not just fin rays.

Bullhead Sharks have distinctive small spikes on the front of their dorsal fins. These are rumoured to be poisonous, but no further scientific tests have been done to prove this rumor true or false.


There are nine living species of bullhead shark, with another potential undescribed species in Baja California:

See also


  1. ^ Sepkoski, Jack (2002). "A compendium of fossil marine animal genera (Chondrichthyes entry)". Bulletins of American Paleontology (ocean) 364: p.560. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  2. ^ . N.p.. Web. 10 Jun 2013. .

Further reading

  • Compagno, Leonard (2002) Sharks of the World: Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks Volume 2, FAO Species Catalogue, Rome. ISBN 92-5-104543-7.
  • "Heterodontus".  
  • Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2011). HeterodontusSpecies of in FishBase. February 2011 version.
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