This catalogue includes all the described species of living sharks and their synonyms, including species of considerable and major importance to fisheries as well as those of potential, limited, and no current use.
The catalogue fills a need for a comprehensive review of sharks of the world in a form accessible to fisheries workers as well as shark biologists, people who encounter sharks during the course of work in the sea, and the interested public.
In recent years there has been a marked increase in our knowledge of shark systematics; and formerly difficult, poorly known groups of species have yielded to revisionary work. However, with a single exception there has been no comprehensive work in the past 70 years listing all shark species and their synonyms.
Early post-Linnaean workers followed the tradition of Linnaeus' (1758) Systema Naturae in attempting to list, characterize and classify all known living sharks, but these workers were hampered by the Linnaean system, which allowed only a single genus, Squalus, for sharks.
Some of the most important early comprehensive works are those of
Bloch & Schneider (1801), and
Cuvier (1817, 1829).
By the beginning of the nineteenth century the Linnean Squalus was undergoing fragmentation, with the works of
Blainville (1816) and
Cuvier (1817) introducing the most innovations of this sort prior to Müller & Henle's revisions.
The advent of Müller & Henle's epocal
Systematische Beschreibung der Plagiostomen (Müller & Henle, 1838-1841)
essentially placed the classification of sharks (andtheir close relatives, the rays or batoids) on a modern footing. The Plagiostomen is a comprehensive review and synthesis of the work of previous writers and a bold step beyond the chaos of the previous century. It divided the elasmobranch fishes (plagiostomes, or sharks and rays) into many families and genera, most of which are recognized today. Of the sharks, some 13 of Müller & Henle's genera are in current use. The Plagiostomen probably is the most important single work that broadly covers the systematics of sharks and rays.
Subsequent comprehensive reviews, including those of
Günther (1870), and Garman (1913) followed the conventions of Müller & Henle with considerable modifications.
Gill (1862, 1872, 1896) reviewed the genera andclassification of sharks while Engelhardt (1913) presented a concise checklist of living sharks along with a review of their zoogeography.
Since the works of Garman and Engelhardt there have been partial and regional reviews of the sharks of considerable importance, including
Fowler (1929, 1941),
Whitley (1940, revised as Whitley & Pollard, 1980),
Bigelow & Schroeder (1948),
Garrick & Schultz (1963), and more recently Springer (1966, 1979),
Garrick (1967, 1967a, 1982),
Compagno (1970, 1973a,c, 1979, 1982), Bass, D'Aubrey & Kistnasamy (1973, 1975, a,b,c, 1976),
Applegate et al. 1979, and
Cadenat & Blache (1981).
Steuben & Krefft (1978) is a semipopular work listing many species of sharks.
Shiino (1976) and Lindberg, Heard & Rass(1980) have compiled lists of vernacular names of world fishes, which include many shark species.
The only modern comprehensive work listing the living sharks is contained in Fowler's partially published "Catalog of World Fishes" (sharks in Fowler, 1966-1969). This was published posthumously and is derived from Fowler's immense card catalogue on world fishes, which is apparently the most voluminous and comprehensive database of its kind in existence apart from the Pisces sections of the Zoological Record. Unfortunately, the shark section of the Catalog has many errors and shows the difficulties that arise when a compilation of species is made without the necessary revisionary work on many of the groups compiled. Fowler's catalogue of sharks is also outdated by revisionary work subsequent to its last entries (dated at 1958). Although an invaluable source work, the Catalog of World Fishes is difficult to use and is not recommended as a modern list of living sharks, especially to fisheries workers and others unfamiliar with shark systematics.
I feel also that a comprehensive catalogue of world sharks can serve as an invaluable educational tool to the fisheries workers, to shark researches not specializing in taxonomy, to people encountering sharks in the field and uncertain of their danger or utility, and to the interested public at large as a guide to the taxonomic literature and to the numerous name changes and additions of species since the last comprehensive works on sharks were published. There are numerous taxonomic synonyms and dubious species names for sharks in the literature, averaging about 1.7 per valid species or about 5 for every 3 valid species described, with as many as 21 for a single species: the Carcharhinidae, with about 49 valid species, has over 150 synonyms, dubious names and nomina nuda for species. The present Catalogue lists all of the synonyms for shark species, genera and families, known to me; and for species lists common combinations of generic and specific names that have recently been used but are not considered valid.