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Author: Springer and Heemstra, 1979

Field Marks:
One of several species of Apristurus with the first dorsal fin about half the area of the second. See diagnostic features and key to species for other characters.

Diagnostic Features:
Body relatively slender, trunk slightly tapering toward head. Snout moderately long, broad, and bell-shaped, preoral snout about 9 to 10% of total length; gill slits small, considerably less than eye length; gill septa without projecting medial lobes or pleats but more or less incised; eyes rather small in adults, about 3% of total length; nostrils broad, their width about 1.2 times in internarial space; incurrent and excurrent apertures fairly broad and oval, anterior nasal flaps high and angular; mouth short, relatively small and broadly arched, with dental bands moderately expanded and with lower ones falling slightly behind uppers; mouth and labial furrows hardly extending in front of eyes; labial folds not enlarged, with lowers diagonal to body axis; mouth and teeth not enlarged in males. Interdorsal space about twice the first dorsal base, slightly less than preorbital snout; first dorsal fin half to one fourth the area of second, base of first about two-thirds of second; origin of first dorsal behind pelvic insertions, between them and anal origin; second dorsal insertion well in front of anaf insertion; pectoral fins small to moderately large, anterior margins about 10 to 15% of total length; inner margins moderately long, at least half length of pectoral bases; interspace between pectoral and pelvic bases moderately long, slightly less than prespiracular length and about 11 to 14% of total length in adults; pelvic fins low and subangular; anal fin long, low, and angular, about five times longer than high, base slightly greater than prespiracular space and 16 to 18% of total length in adults; caudal fin fairly broad, with moderately enlarged denticles present along its dorsal margin. Lateral trunk denticles of body with flat, close-set crowns, body surface fairly smooth and not with a feltlike or fuzzy texture. Colour blackish, without conspicuous markings. Adults moderately large, to 51 cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Western North Atlantic, northeastern Gulf of Mexico off Florida, USA, Gulf of Campeche, Mexico, Caribbean Panama, Caribbean Colombia, and off French Guiana.

Habitat and Biology:
Found on the continental slope, on or near the bottom, at depths of 636 to 1115 m. One of the commonest Apristurus species in the Gulf of Mexico, along with A. Iaurussonii. Oviparous, apparently laying one egg per oviduct at a time.

Size:
Maximum 52.1 cm for females, 47.6 cm for males.

Interest to Fisheries:
Relatively common in deep trawl catches, but apparently not utilized commercially.

Remarks:
Springer (1966) had originally termed this species A. indicus, but it is apparently not conspecific with that Indian Ocean species and was renamed by Springer and Heemstra (in Springer, 1979).

Type material:
Holotype: U.S. National Museum of Natural History, USNM 206178, 476 mm male. Type Locality: Gulf of Mexico off Pensacola, Florida, USA, in 1115 m depth.

Smallfin catshark (Apristurus parvipinnis)