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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Review of the Systematics of Angel Sharks Emphasizing the Species of the Eastern Pacific Region with a Modified Set of Morphometrics for Order Squatiniformes

  • Author(s): Alioto, Dominic
  • Advisor(s): Buth, Donald G
  • et al.

Members of the monofamilial chondrichthyan order Squatiniformes, commonly known as angel sharks, sand devils, ange de mer, and angelotes, are primarily benthic dwelling sharks found mainly in temperate and sub-tropical parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Squatiniformes are very easily recognized from other shark-like fishes, but the individual species within the order are much more difficult to distinguish from each other. In the eastern North Pacific (ENP) region, three species descriptions were published from 1859 to 1913. Since the latter date, the systematics of the entire order of Squatiniformes has been in a state of flux, from having only one description recognized as valid to having all three being recognized as valid at different points in history. Currently only two descriptions are considered valid Squatina californica, Ayers, 1859 and Squatina armata (Philippi, 1887). Herein, the presence of at least four phenotypic morphs in the ENP is confirmed and a revised dichotomous key for the Squatiniformes of the region is presented. Additionally, numerous mistakes in the classification and cataloging of museum specimens are noted and corrected.

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