Painted swellshark
The painted swellshark (Cephaloscyllium pictum) is a little-known species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of catshark
Catsharks are ground sharks of the family Scyliorhinidae, with over 150 known species. While they are generally known as catsharks, many species are commonly called dogfish....

, family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 Scyliorhinidae, found in eastern Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. This species reaches a maximum known length of 72 cm (28.3 in), and has a thick body with a short, broad and flattened head. It is dark gray with a variegated pattern of irregular darker and lighter blotches above, and lighter below with gray blotches and speckling on the snout. Like other swellsharks, it can inflate itself as a defensive measure.


The painted swellshark was initially identified with the Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Cephaloscyllium "sp. E", now known to consist of the flagtail swellshark
Flagtail swellshark
The flagtail swellshark is a little-known species of catshark, family Scyliorhinidae, found at a depth of off northeastern Queensland and possibly also nearby islands. This stout-bodied shark has a short, broad, and flattened head with a capacious mouth...

 (C. signourum) and the speckled swellshark (C. speccum), because of their similar variegated color patterns. Genetic
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 data showed this shark to be distinct from the two Australian species, and it was described in a 2008 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is the national government body for scientific research in Australia...

 (CSIRO) publication by Peter Last, Bernard Séret, and William White. Its specific epithet is derived from the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 pictus, meaning "painted". The type specimen is a 65 cm (25.6 in) long adult male obtained at Lombok
Lombok is an island in West Nusa Tenggara province, Indonesia. It forms part of the chain of the Lesser Sunda Islands, with the Lombok Strait separating it from Bali to the west and the Alas Strait between it and Sumbawa to the east...

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...


Distribution and habitat

As all known specimens of the painted swellshark have come from fish markets on the Indonesian islands of Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 and Lombok, its exact range and habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

 preferences are uncertain.


A stout-bodied species reaching 72 cm (28.3 in) in length, the painted swellshark has a short, broad, strongly flattened head with a blunt snout. The slit-like eyes are placed high on the head and are followed by tiny spiracle
Spiracles are openings on the surface of some animals that usually lead to respiratory systems.-Vertebrates:The spiracle is a small hole behind each eye that opens to the mouth in some fishes. In the primitive jawless fish the first gill opening immediately behind the mouth is essentially similar...

s. The nostril
A nostril is one of the two channels of the nose, from the point where they bifurcate to the external opening. In birds and mammals, they contain branched bones or cartilages called turbinates, whose function is to warm air on inhalation and remove moisture on exhalation...

s are preceded by a laterally enlarged flaps of skin that do not reach the mouth, which is long and narrow without furrows at the corners. There are 58–78 upper tooth rows and 59–77 lower tooth rows. Each tooth has 3–5 cusps, with the central cusp the longest; the teeth of adult males are longer than those of females. The upper teeth are exposed when the mouth is closed. The fourth and fifth pairs of gill slit
Gill slit
Gill slits are individual openings to gills, i.e., multiple gill arches, which lack a single outer cover. Such gills are characteristic of Cartilaginous fish such as sharks, rays, sawfish, and guitarfish. Most of these have five pairs, but a few species have 6 or 7 pairs...

s lie over the pectoral fin bases and are shorter than the first three.

The pectoral fins are small with narrowly rounded tips and nearly straight trailing margins. The first dorsal fin
Dorsal fin
A dorsal fin is a fin located on the backs of various unrelated marine and freshwater vertebrates, including most fishes, marine mammals , and the ichthyosaurs...

 has a narrowed rounded apex and originates over the middle of the pelvic fin bases. The almost triangular second dorsal fin is much smaller and lower than both the first dorsal and the anal fins, originating behind the anal fin origin. The pelvic fins are small, with short and elongated claspers in males. The caudal fin has a distinct lower lobe and a strong ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe. The dermal denticles are widely spaced, highly variable in size, and have 1–3 ridges and cusps. This shark is a dark gray above, with faint blackish saddles mostly broken up into irregular blotches, and a smattering of lighter spots. There are also blackish bars below the eyes, over the gills and pelvic fins, and on the upper caudal fin lobe before the ventral notch. The underside is pale with many gray blotches, and black and white speckling on the snout; the demarcation between the dorsal and ventral coloration is irregular but abrupt. Juveniles are unknown, though both Australian variegated swellsharks have very differently colored young.

Biology and ecology

There is scant natural history information on the painted swellshark. Like other Cephaloscyllium species, it is capable of taking in water or air to increase its girth when threatened. In males, sexual maturity
Sexual maturity
Sexual maturity is the age or stage when an organism can reproduce. It is sometimes considered synonymous with adulthood, though the two are distinct...

 is attained under a length of 58 cm (22.8 in).

Human interactions

The conservation status of the painted swellshark has not been evaluated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
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