During late 1998 I created the website floridasawfish.com and dedicated it to living sawfishes with a special emphasis on the smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) of Florida. This new website, fossilsawfish.com, reflects my more recent passion in researching all sawfishes of the fossil record. I started this new website in June 2009. Please be patient as I slowly add more information, images, and PDFs of publications as time permits.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
If you hold an interest in fossil sawfish, it is hoped that this website suites your purpose and inspires you to learn more about these fascinating fish, as there is very little known about them. Because so little is known about sawfish past or present, the main goal of this website is to provide a learning medium for the beginner to advanced hobbiest to gain a better understanding of fossil sawfish diversity and evolution.
Sawfishes belong to a group of fishes called elasmobranchs that includes sharks, rays, and skates. All Elasmobranchs have a skeleton made of cartilage as opposed to a skeleton made of bone like other fishes such as red drum, snook, or tarpon. Sawfishes are actually a type of ray. While modern sawfish all fit into one family known as Pristidae, derived from a Greek term meaning "a sawyer or saw"; an anciant sawfish family (Sclerorhynchidae) lived in primitive seas and have long since gone extinct. Members of both families possess the characteristic long, flattened, toothed rostrum, a flattened head and trunk, and a shark-like appearance and manner of swimming.
In pristids, the teeth along the saw are not replaced if they are lost. However, evidence suggests that at least one species of sclerorhynchid may have rotated out their rostral teeth however. Sawfishes worldwide are poorly studied and no one knows for sure the number of living species; most researchers agree that there are about six living species remaining.
Please be patient with us as we continue to build this website.
Below is a very brief list of fossil sawfish taxa. This list should be considered preliminary. I will update and revise this list soon.
Pristiformes Buen, 1929
Pristidae Bonaparte, 1838 -coastal, some freshwater -0.1 to at least 122 m depth -oral teeth of recent spp. poorly known
Anoxypristis White & Moy-Thomas, 1941 Anoxypristis mucrodens (White, 1926) -tiny oral teeth (ca. 1 mm wide), wider than long and fairly different from Pristis oral teeth -mid-Miocene-recent: Europe, North America, north and west Africa Recent: Indo-Pacific and Indian oceans
Peyeria Weiler, 1935 -possibly dermal thorns of batoid instead of oral teeth? -rostral teeth ca. 2.5 cm, triangular, no enamel, funnel shaped base -possibly Propristis rostral teeth? (too old though) Upper Cretaceous: northeast Africa (oldest pristioid; 145.5-65.5 Ma) Type specimen: Peyeria libyca Weiler, 1935 from Baharije, Egypt, northern Africa
Propristis Dames, 1883 -from isolated rostral teeth and a 2.15 m rostrum (Fraas, 1907) -rostral teeth have no enamel, about as wide as long -no oral teeth known -mid-Eocene to Miocene: north and west Africa, North America Type specimen: Propristis schweinfurthi Dames, 1883, upper Eocene, Fayoum, Egypt
Pristis Linck, 1790 -oral teeth to 3 mm wide, may be longer than wide Lower Eocene to Present: Europe, North America, north and west Africa -Revision of the many fossil species is necessary
Fossil Species: Pristis amblodon Cope, 1869: New Jersey, mid-Eocene Pristis aquitanicus Delfortrie, 1872: lower Miocene, southern France Pristis atlanticus Zbyszewsky, 1947: mid-miocene, Portugal Pristis brayi Casier, 1949: mid-Eocene, Belgium -may be synonym of P. lathami Pristis caheni Dartevelle & Casier, 1959: Miocene, Cabinda, western Africa Pristis lathami Galeotti, 1837: mid-Eocene, Belgium -lower Eocene, Morocco -mid-Eocene, New Jersey, Egypt, Togo Pristis olbrechtsi Darlevelle & Casier, 1959: mid-Eocene, western Africa Pristis prosulcatus Stromer, 1905: mid-Eocene, Egypt
? suborder Sclerorhynchoidei Cappetta, 1980 -long flattened rostrum -rostral teeth w/ enameloid cap and a peduncle w/ closed basal face -rostral teeth not set in alveoli -no rostral barbels -have external rostral nerves -two dorsals, well developed and close together; in posterior position -reduced caudal fin; long whip-like tail
Sclerorhynchidae Cappetta, 1974 ( = Ganopristinae Arambourg, 1940) -genera known from complete skeletons to isolated rostral teeth and oral teeth
Two groups of genera:
1) Rostral tooth cap contains core of osteodentine:
Onchosaurus Gervais, 1852
Pucapristis Schaeffer, 1963
Schizorhiza Weiler, 1930
2) Rostral tooth cap of orthodentine, with a pulp cavity:
Atlanticopristis Pereira and Medeiro, 2008 Atlanticopristis equatorialis Pereira and Medeiro, 2008 - 14 rostral teeth from early Cenomanian of Alcantara Fm., Itapecura Grp., northeastern Brazil -rostral teeth multi-barbed on both posterior and anterior sides. -rostral teeth about 15-19 mm long, extensive enameloid ribbing on dorsal and ventral surfaces -thought to be closely related to Onchopristis
Onchopristis Stromer, 1917 Onchopristis numidus ???? -Usually one barb, rarely more than one barb on posterior margin of rostral teeth Onchopristis dunklei ???? -always more than one barb on posterior margin of rostral teeth