Rhinopristiformes – Shovelnose rays

One of their notable features is their body shape, which combines traits of both sharks and rays

Shovelnose rays, closely related to sharks, are truly remarkable creatures distinguished by their unique flat, shovel-shaped snouts adorned with teeth along the edges. These snouts serve a dual purpose, enabling them to both dig into and locate food within the sandy ocean floor. Additionally, they possess the hallmark features of two dorsal fins, an anal fin, five-gill slits, small eyes, and an extra eyelid that offers protection when they bite or sense threats.

One outstanding feature that defines these rays is their distinctive rostral protrusion—an elongated extension at the front of their snout, resembling a sharp “nose.” The size and shape of this protrusion can vary among species, with some exhibiting a guitar-like form. Beyond its unique appearance, the rostral protrusion is functional in its survival strategy. It stirs up sediment on the ocean floor, unveiling hidden prey such as crustaceans and small fish, showcasing their adaptability in foraging techniques. Moreover, this rostral protrusion doubles as a defensive tool, warding off potential predators or competitors.

The intricate interplay of these anatomical features in shovelnose rays underscores their remarkable adaptations for survival and resource acquisition in diverse marine environments. From their specialized snouts to the versatile rostral protrusion, these rays exemplify nature’s ingenious craftsmanship, creating species equipped with unique attributes to navigate their ecological niches effectively.