African Dwarf Sawshark

The African dwarf sawshark is a recently studied species of sawshark. It was discovered in 2011 off the coast of Mozambique at a depth of 490 m (1,600 m) and named in honor of Nancy Packard of the Packard family. She has been a generous supporter of marine research. The naming was done by researchers at the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

African Dwarf Sawshark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Pristiophoriformes
Family Pristiophoridae
Genus Pristiophorus
Scientific name P. nancyae


The maximum length measured for mature males was 61.6 cm (2 ft), and for females, it was 62.1 cm (2.03 ft). These sharks are characterized by their long snout or rostrum with dark stripes on the middle and edges and sharp outward-facing teeth, making up nearly one-third of their length. They have slender bodies with brown shading above them and a white underbelly.

Their pectoral and dorsal fins have darker frontal margins with whiter trailing edges, which are more prominent in juveniles. The first dorsal fin is triangular and broad, with a rear tip extending behind the midbase of the pelvic fin.

Where do they live

Map Of The African Dwarf Sawshark’s Habitat

African Dwarf Sawshark Habitat Map

They were found primarily near Mozambique, with unconfirmed sightings off the coast of Somalia and Kenya. They are bottom-dwelling sharks inhabiting the continental shelf at depths of 286-500 m (938-1,640 ft).



Not enough is known to ascertain its diet correctly. Still, stomach samples have suggested that it favors small crustaceans like shrimp.


It is assumed ovoviviparous like the othersawsharks, but more research is needed to determine its reproductive cycle.


It hunts by swimming through a school of fish while swinging its rostrum back and forth to stun and injure prey. It then swims back through the school to consume the casualties.


African dwarf sawsharks use their saw-like snouts as both a defensive and predatory tool. Apart from this, they have features common to most sharks, like streamlined bodies, sharp pointed teeth, and an acute sense of smell and vision.

Human interactions

Due to their rarity and habitat, African dwarf sawsharks are harmless to humans. However, they are at significant risk of being caught as bycatch by shrimping operations and trawlers.

There is not enough data about their population to correctly assess the threat posed by humans, so the IUCN has labeled the species as “Least Concern” or “LC.”

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