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Author: Rafinesque, 1810

Field Marks:
A large Galeus with long anal fin, compressed precaudal tail, striking colour pattern of numerous dark saddles and circular spots.

Diagnostic Features:
Precaudal tail with base noticeably compressed. Snout moderately long and pointed, preoral length about 6 to 9% of total length; prenarial snout equal or less than eye length; eyes lateral on head, subocular ridges obsolete; mouth fairly large and short, very broadly arched, its width 6 to 8% of total length; labial furrows moderately long, not confined to mouth corners. Pelvic fins small, low, and angular; interspace between pelvic and anal bases much shorter than anal base; anal base long, 13 to 18% of total length, much greater than interdorsal space; its origin well in front of midlength of interdorsalspace; no subeaudal crest of enlarged denticles on preventral caudal margin. A colour pattern of welldefined, variegated dark saddle blotches and circular spots on body and caudal fin; saddles over 15 on back and tail; dorsal fins and caudal tip white; mouth lining dark. Monospondylous precaudal centra 37 to 43. Size moderate, adults up to 90 cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Eastern North Atlantic: Faeroe Islands and Trondheim, Norway southward to Senegal, also Mediterranean Sea.

Habitat and Biology:
A common deepwater bottomdwelling shark found on the outer continental shelves and upper slopes, mainly between 200 and 500 m, but occasionally up to 55 m and down to 1000 m depth.

Oviparous, with up to 13 eggs present in the oviducts of a female at one time; egg-cases about 6 by 3 cm.

Feeds mainly on bottom invertebrates, including shrimps and cephalopods, but also on small mesopelagic bony fishes (lanternfishes) and other small elasmobranchs.

Size:
Maximum 90 cm; males maturing between 34 and 42 cm and reaching at least 61 cm, females maturing between 39 and 45 cm and reaching 90 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Limited, in the eastern North Atlantic caught in bottom trawls and utilized fresh and dried-salted for human consumption, and for leather.

Type material:
Holotype: None. Type Locality: Sicily.

Blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus)