For detailed information on ancient, prehistoric sharks please visit our Paleo-Shark Pages.

Elasmobranchii is the class which includes sharks and batoids (rays). Elasmobranchs are characterized by cylindrical or flattened bodies, five to seven pairs of gill slits, an upper jaw not fused to their cranium, and placoid scales (which will be discussed later).

There are 375+ known species of sharks. There are 9 orders of sharks and 6 orders of batoids. The first two charts below lists these orders.

All sharks within each specific order have distinguishing physical traits. The chart at the bottom of this page lists these recognizable external characteristics.


Order Family Example
Carcharhiniformes Carcharhinididae Requiem Sharks
Hemigaleidae Weasel Sharks
Leptochariidae Barbled Houndsharks
Proscylliidae Finback Catsharks
Pseudotriakidae False Catsharks
Scyliorhinidae Catsharks
Sphyrnidae Hammerhead Sharks
Triakidae Houndsharks
Heterodontiformes Heterodontidae Bullhead Sharks
Hexanchiformes Chlamydoselachidae Frilled Sharks
Hexanchidae Cow Sharks
Lamniformes Alopiidae Thresher Sharks
Cetorhinidae Basking Sharks
Lamnidae Mackerel Sharks
Megachasmidae Megamouth Sharks
Mitsukurinidae Goblin sharks
Odontaspididae Sand Tiger Sharks
Pseudocarchariidae Crocodile Sharks
Orectolobiformes Brachaeluridae Blind Sharks
Ginglymostomatidae Nurse Sharks
Hemiscylliidae Longtailed Carpetsharks
Orectolobidae Wobbegongs
Parascylliidae Collared Carpetsharks
Rhiniodontidae Whale Sharks
Stegostomatidae Zebra Sharks
Pristiophoriformes Pristiophoridae Sawsharks
Squaliformes Squalidae Dogfish Sharks
Centrophoridae Gulper Sharks
Etmoptereidae Lantern Sharks
Somniosidae Sleeper Sharks
Oxynotidae Rough Sharks
Dalatiidae Kitefin Sharks
Squatiniformes Squatinidae Angel Sharks
Echinorhiniformes Echinorhinidae Bramble Sharks


Order Family Example
Rhiniformes Rhina anclyostoma Sharkfin Guitarfish
Pristiformes Pristidae Sawfishes
Rhinobatiformes Rhinobatidae Guitarfishes
Platyrhynchidae Thornback Rays
Torpediniformes Narcinidae Numbfishes
Narkidae Sleeper Rays
Hypnidae Coffin Ray
Torpedinidae Torpedo Rays
Rajiformes Rajidae Skates
Myliobatiformes Plesiobatidae Giant Stingarees
Hexatrygonidae Sixgill Stingrays
Urolophidae Stingarees
Potamotrygonidae River Stingrays
Dasyatidae Whiptail Stingrays
Gymnuridae Butterfly Rays
Myliobatidae Eagle Rays
Rhinopteridae Cownose Ray
Mobulidae Devil Rays

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