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the web of life in southern Africa

Hexanchidae (cow sharks)

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

Slender to heavy-bodied sharks with subterminal mouths and large, flat, comblike lower cutting teeth. 4 species.

Species found in Southern Africa

Heptranchias perlo (Sharpnose sevengill shark)

A small, slim, narrow-headed big-eyed cowshark with 7 gill slits. Colour brownish to olive grey above, lighter below, dark tips on caudal and dorsal fin in young, adults with light fin margins.

Hexanchus griseus (Bluntnose sixgill shark)

A giant 6-gilled cowshark with a broad, blunt snout, moderately large, bright green eyes, and a short caudal peduncle. Colour light brown or grey to black with a light horizontal line on sides.

Hexanchus nakamurai (Bigeye sixgill shark)

A small, slim, 6-gilled cowshark with a narrow snout, big eyes, and a long, slender caudal peduncle. Colour uniform brownish grey, paler below, fins white-edged.

Notorynchus cepedianus (Spotted sevengill shark)

A large inshore 7-gilled cowshark with a broad, blunt head, small eyes, and numerous small black spots on body and fins. Colour reddish-brown to silvery-grey or olive-grey above, cream below, without a light line along body; eyes do not glow bright green. Individuals rarely lack black spots, and some have small light spots caused by fungus disease.