New shark discovered off South Africa


A new species of scyliorhinid shark has been described from South Africa.

The catshark has been named Haploblepharus kistnasamyi in a paper by Brett Human and Leonardo Compagno in the latest issue of the systematics journal Zootaxa, and was discovered off kwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

Haploblepharus kistnasamyi is a member of the catshark family Scyliorhinidae and is believed to be one of four species in the shyshark genus Haploblepharus, the others being: the Puffadder shyshark, H. edwardsii, the Brown shyshark, H. pictus and the Dark shyshark, H. fuscus.

H. kistnasamyi was previously believed to be a colour variant of the Puffadder shyshark, H. edwardsii, which is found along the southern coast of South Africa. However, although the two sharks are superficially similar, Human and Compagno claim that kistnasamyi can be distinguished from H. edwardsii and other members of the Haploblepharus genus by its stockier build, less depressed head and trunk and more compressed caudal peduncle.

The members of the Haploblepharus genus have historically been considered difficult to identify because most of the identification keys available used colour patterns, which can vary within a species, and poor morphological characters which weren't always capable of accurately diagnosing species.

For more information on the new shark species see the paper: Human BA and LJV Compagno (2006) - Description of Haploblepharus kistnasamyi, a new catshark (Chrondrichthyes: Scyliorhinidae) from South Africa. Zootaxa, 1318: 41-58.