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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: (Vaillant, 1888)

Field Marks:
Black coloration, small dorsal fin spines, no anal fin, moderately long snout, small lanceolate teeth without cusplets in upper jaw and large high, knife-cusped cutting teeth in lower jaw, mouth moderately wide and nearly transverse, caudal fin with strong subterminal notch and short lower lobe.

Diagnostic Features:
Head rather low and flat; snout rather narrow and long, preoral length greater than mouth width and almost equal to distance from lower symphysis to first gill slits; mouth fairly narrow, short and transverse; postoral grooves very long, much longer than upper labial furrows; gill slits rather short, longest less than half eye length. Pectoral fins narrow and leaf-shaped; apices of pectoral fins falling well in front of first dorsal spine; pelvic fins small, about equal to second dorsal fin; caudal fin with a strong subterminal notch and a short lower lobe. Lateral trunk denticles with cross-ridges on crowns. Caudal peduncle long, distance from second dorsal base to upper caudal origin about equal to second dorsal base.

Geographical Distribution:
Western Atlantic: Northern Gulf of Mexico; Surinam; southern Brazil. Eastern North Atlantic: Iceland and Faeroe Ridge to Madeira, Morocco, Cape Verde Islands, and Senegal. Western Indian Ocean: South Africa.

Habitat and Biology:
A little-known deepwater shark of the Atlantic and possibly Indian Ocean continental slopes, usually found on or near the bottom at depths of 550 to 1450 m; also epipelagic and oceanic off Brazil at depths between 0 and 580 m in water 2000 m deep. Probably ovoviviparous and a predator on bottom fishes and invertebrates, but its smaller teeth and mouth, and weaker jaws suggest that it is a predator less capable of killing large prey than its congener S. ringens.

Maximum total length about 59 cm; an adult male 51 cm, and an adult female 59 cm long.

Interest to Fisheries:
Reported as being caught in bottom trawls, with line gear, and with fixed bottom nets in the eastern Atlantic, and utilized dried salted for human consumption and for fishmeal.

As described by Krefft (1980) this species is very close to S. squamulosus and may be a junior synonym of that species.

Type material:
Holotype: Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, MNHN-84-388, 590 mm female. Type Locality: "Cotes du Soudan", 1400 to 1435 m depth.

Smallmouth velvet dogfish (Scymnodon obscurus)