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Horn shark

Horn sharkScientific Name:Heterodontus francisci
This shark gets its name from the two horns that stick up in front of the dorsal fins. It lays distinctive, spiral-shaped egg cases that look like drill-bits.

The body of a horn shark is brown or grey with lighter spots. They have five-gill slits and spines on their dorsal fins that resemble horns, hence the name. A bony lower jaw enables them to deal with hard-shelled prey. They can use their strong fins as limbs.

Horn sharks range along the east Pacific coast from central California to central America They are a bottom dwelling fish, which grow to be about 3-4 feet in length. The horn shark lives near the seabed in temperate waters to depths of 150m (500ft). It favors kelp beds, small caves and underwater caverns.
Horn shark
They eat crabs, molluscs, sea urchins, abalone and small fish. It hunts at night. Off California, the horn shark shows a preference for Red Sea urchins. Shark's teeth are sometimes stained red by this food. It has small, pointy teeth in the front of its mouth and flat teeth in the back (these are good for grinding hard-shelled prey)

Largely nocturnal, they hide under rocks during the day. These sharks are slow moving and harmless to people, but can be aggressive if provoked. Their spines sting if touched.

Unlike most sharks, these are Oviparous, i.e., they lay corkscrew-shaped eggs in rock crevices. These eggs are about 4 3/4 inches (12 cm) long and take from 6 to 10 months to hatch; the time depends on the temperature of the water. Horn sharks mate in December and January. Females lay spiral egg cases with a drill bit-like screw thread, from February to April.

Horn shark eggs

Statistics: They can grow to 1.2m. Males are larger than females.

Horn Sharks have to fear only man. They are hunted for sport and their spines used in jewelry.

Horn Shark Classification:
  • Kingdom Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum Chordata
  • SubPhylum Vertebrata (vertebrates)
  • Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fish)
  • Subclass Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays)
  • Order Heterodontiformes
  • Family Carcharhinidae (requiem sharks)
  • Genus Heterodontus
  • Species francisci


Shark Info Sheet
Basking shark
Blue shark
Bronze whaler shark
Bull sharks
Dogfish shark
Dusky shark
Great hammerhead
Great White shark
Grey Reef Shark
Horn shark
Leopard shark
Oceanic whitetip
Salmon shark
Sand tiger sharks
Scalloped hammerhea-
Shortfin mako
Sixgill shark
Sleeper shark
Tiger shark
Whale shark
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