Spotted swellshark
The spotted swellshark (Cephaloscyllium maculatum) is a 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, known only from a single 18.8 cm (7.4 in) long juvenile specimen caught off eastern Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

. It is a fairly slender shark with a short, flattened head and a relatively small mouth, and is characterized by its color pattern of angular hollow saddles and lateral blotches on a brownish background. Like other swellsharks, this species has a greatly expandable stomach
The stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract in some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects , and molluscs. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication .The stomach is...



The sole known specimen of the spotted swellshark was collected on April 3, 1988 from Su-ao
Su-ao, Yilan
Su-ao , located in southern Yilan County, Taiwan, is an urban township that is famous for its seafood restaurants and cold springs. It is the destination of National Highway No. 5, Su-ao-Hualian Express Way, and North-Link Line of Taiwan Railway Administration...

, Taiwan, by David Ebert, who described it in conjunction with Jayna Schaaf-Da Silva in a 2008 issue of the scientific journal
Scientific journal
In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research. There are thousands of scientific journals in publication, and many more have been published at various points in the past...

 Zootaxa. They gave the shark the specific epithet maculatum, which means "spotted" in 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...


Distribution and habitat

The spotted swellshark has only been found off the eastern coast of Taiwan.


The sole known specimen of the spotted swellshark is a 18.8 cm (7.4 in) long juvenile male. Its body is relatively slender and it has a short, wide, and moderately flattened head. The snout is broadly rounded, with the large 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 preceded by short and triangular flaps of skin. The eyes are small, oval, and cat-like, with broad ridges underneath; they 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 mouth is relatively small, without furrows at the corners, and contains 48 upper tooth rows and 52 lower tooth rows; each tooth is very small, with a central cusp and a pair of lateral cusplets. The five 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 are very short.

The pectoral fins are large and broad, while the pelvic fins are small. 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...

 is small, though slightly larger than the second dorsal fin, and originates over or behind the middle of the pelvic fin bases. The anal fin is larger than either dorsal fin. The caudal fin is broad, with a strong ventral notch near the tip of the upper lobe. The skin is thick and covered by well-calcified
Calcification is the process in which calcium salts build up in soft tissue, causing it to harden. Calcifications may be classified on whether there is mineral balance or not, and the location of the calcification.-Causes:...

 dermal denticles. The juvenile coloration is brown to beige above, with darker lines forming a series of eight angular hollow saddles from the head to the tail, and additional angular hollow blotches on the sides, including above the pectoral and pelvic fins and on the larger fins. the underside is pale and unmarked. While the adult coloration is unknown, the juvenile coloration differs from that of the juveniles of all other Cephaloscyllium species in the region.

Biology and ecology

Virtually nothing is known of the natural history of the spotted swellshark. When threatened, it is likely capable of inflating its body with water or air like other swellsharks.

Human interactions

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has not assessed the conservation status of the leopard-spotted swellshark.
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