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Author: Risso, 1826

Field Marks:
A usually black-spotted smallish Mustelus with a short head and snout, narrow head and internarial, large eyes, upper labial furrows somewhat longer than lowers, low-crowned teeth with weak cusps, buccopharyngeal denticles confined to front of mouth, lanceolate lateral trunk denticles with incomplete ridges, and prominently fringed dorsal fins.

Diagnostic Features:
Body fairly slender. Head short, prepectoral length 17 to 20% of total length; snout moderately long and bluntly angular in lateral view, preoral snout 5.6 to 7.5% of total length, preorbital snout 6.1 to 7.3% of total length; internarial space narrow, 1.9 to 2.3% of total length; eyes fairly large, eye length 2.1 to 2.8 timesin preorbital snout and 2.3 to 3.6% of total length; interorbital space, 3.7 to 4.4% of total length; mouth short, subequal to eye length and 2 to 3.1% of total length; upper labial furrows definitely longer than lowers and 1.7 to 2.2% of total length; teeth molariform and asymmetric, with cusp reduced to a low point; distal cusplets absent except in very young sharks; buccopharyngeal denticles confined to tongue and third of palate. Interdorsal space 18 to 22% of total length, trailing edges of dorsal fins naked, with a prominent band of dark, bare ceratotrichia; first dorsal broadly triangular, with posteroventrally sloping posterior margin, its midbase closer to pelvic bases than to pectorals; pectoral fins fairly small, anterior margin lengths 12 to 14% of total length, width of posterior margins 7.2 to 11% of total length; pelvic fins small, anterior margin length 7.4 to 8.8% of total length; anal height 2.3 to 3.4% of total length; anal-caudal space greater than second dorsal height, and 6 to 8.2% of total length; ventral caudal lobe falcate in adults. Crowns of lateral trunk denticles lanceolate, with or without weak ridges that, when present, extend at most only half their length. Cranium, hyomandibulae, and scapulocoracoids not hypercalcified in adults; palatoquadrates not subdivided; monospondylous precaudal centra 32 to 37, diplospondylous precaudal centra 41 to 50, precaudal centra 78 to 84. Colour uniform grey or grey-brown above, light below, often with small black spots but without white or dark bars. Development uncertain. Size moderate, adults 50 to 90 cm.

Geographical Distribution:
Eastern North Atlantic: Western Sahara, Mediterranean.

Habitat and Biology:
An inshore, continental bottom-dwelling shark. Habits are little known because of confusion with the more common Mustelus mustelus, but presumably this species is viviparous. Data for Mustelus mediterraneus may apply in part to this species; this suggests a gestation period of about a year and a maturation time of 1 to 2 years, although this remains to be confirmed from direct ageing methods. Probably a crustaceanfeeder.

Maximum at least 95+ cm, males mature at 50 to 55 cm, females at about 60 cm; size at birth about 31 cm.

Interest to Fisheries:
Probably regularly captured and utilized for human consumption in the Mediterranean, but details not certain because of confusion of this species with M. mustelus.

See Heemstra (1973) for a discussion of the systematics and nomenclature of this species. Previously, Quignard and Capape (1972) had described a new species, Mustelus mediterraneus, which Heemstra considers in part referable to M. punctulatus.

Type material:
Holotype: Female of 640 mm, lost? Type Locality: ? Nice, France, Mediterranean Sea.

Blackspotted smooth-hound (Mustelus punctulatus)