Chondrichthyes (Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras)


Chondrichthyes is the class of vertebrates that includes sharks, rays and chimaeras. These relatives of bony fishes are characterized by an internal skeleton of cartilage rather than true bone.

Keywords: sharks; rays; elasmobranchs; cartilage; fishes

Figure 1.

External features of a generalized shark.

Figure 2.

Blacktip shark, Carcharhinus limbatus (photograph by D. Perrine ©).

Figure 3.

Evolutionary relationships of the major groups of modern elasmobranchs or Neoselachii (adapted from de Carvalho, 1996).


Further Reading

Compagno LJV (1984) FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. FAO Fisheries Synopsis 125, volume 4(1–2): 1–655.

Compagno LJV, Simpfendorfer C, McCosker J et al. (1998) Reader's Digest Explores Sharks. Reader's Digest: Pleasantville, NY.

de Carvalho MR (1996) Higher level elasmobranch phylogeny, basal squaleans, and paraphyly. In: Staissny M, Parenti L and Johnson G (eds) Interrelationships of Fishes, pp. 35–62. San Diego: Academic Press.

Gottfried MD, Compagno LJV and Bowman SC (1996) Size and skeletal anatomy of the giant ‘megatooth’ shark Carcharodon megalodon. In: Klimley AP and Ainley DG (eds) Great White Sharks: the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias, pp. 55–66. San Diego: Academic Press.

Klimley AP and Ainley DG (eds) (1996) Great White Sharks: the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias. San Diego: Academic Press.

Paxton JR and Eschmeyer WN (1994) Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press.

Tricas TC, Deacon K, Last P et al. (1997) The Nature Company Guide: Sharks and Rays. Hong Kong: Time‐Life Books.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Gottfried, Michael D(Apr 2001) Chondrichthyes (Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001534]