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Characteristics, distribution and ecology
Taxonomische classification
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Author: (Bonnaterre, 1788)

Field Marks:
A narrow-headed, big-eyed, small seven-gilled shark with one dorsal fin.

Diagnostic Features:
Head narrow and pointed, with 7 pairs of gill slits; eyes very large; mouth very narrow and parabolic; large lower comblike teeth long and low, with a few short mesial cusplets, an abruptly high cusp, and up to 7 or 8 distal cusplets in adults. Caudal peduncle long, distance from dorsal fin insertion toupper caudal origin over twice length of dorsal fin base. Colour: spots absent from body, dorsal fin and upper caudal lobe with black tips, faded or absent in adults but prominent in young.

Geographical Distribution:
Wideranging in tropical and temperate seas; Western Atlantic: North Carolina, USA to Cuba and northern Gulf of Mexico, also southern Brazil and Argentina. Eastern Atlantic: From Morocco to Angola, also Mediterranean Sea. Indian Ocean: South Africa, southern Mozambique, Aldabra Island, southwestern India. Western Pacific: Japan (southeastern Honshu) and southern Sea of Japan to China, also Indonesia (Bali), Australia (New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia) and New Zealand. Eastern Pacific: off northern Chile.

Habitat and Biology:
Marine and benthic, on the continental and insular shelves and upper slopes; depth usually between 27 to 720 m, but sometimes in shallower water close inshore and down to 1000 m.

A primarily deepwater species, probably strong-swimming. Ovoviviparous, number of young 9 to 20 in a litter. Feeds on bony fishes, including hake, and squid. Very active and aggressive when captured and quick to bite, but too small to be very dangerous to people.

Maximum total length about 137 cm, size at birth about 26 cm, size at maturity about 85 cm, for males and 89 to 93 cm for females; said to reach 214 cm, but possibly in error.

Interest to Fisheries:
Generally caught in some numbers as a byeatch of fisheries utilizing bottom trawls and longlines, but of small importance.

This species was recently discovered off Quilon, southwestern India (Compagno and Talwar, 1982, in press), and off Bali, Indonesia (T. Gloerfelt-Tarp, pers.comm.).

Type material:
Holotype: Unknown. Type Locality: Mediterranean Sea.

Sharpnose sevengill shark (Heptranchias perlo)