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the web of life in southern Africa

Pristis microdon (Greattooth sawfish)

Latham, 1794

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

Pristis microdon (Greattooth sawfish) [Illustration by Ann Hecht ]


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.


To over 6.6 m TL.


East coast, Port Alfred to Mozambique; circumtropical.



Close inshore in the tropics, off beaches, in large estuaries and in fresh water, penetrating far up rivers and occuring in large lakes.


Feeds on small bony fishes and shellfish.

Human Impact

Occasionally caught by the Natal shark nets, by shore anglers and trawlers.

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