Early scale development in Heterodontus (Heterodontiformes; Chondrichthyes): A novel chondrichthyan scale pattern

Zerina Johanson*, Moya M. Smith, Jean M P Joss

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Citations (Scopus)


    In two species of Heterodontus, H. portusjacksoni and H. galeatus, the first scales to develop form two opposing rows along the caudal fin axis on both the left and right sides of the fin. The opposing rows originate from an initial scale located on either side of the posterior tip of the caudal fin, with subsequent scales erupting in a posterior to anterior direction along the tail axis. These scale rows may strengthen tail movements, providing aeration in the egg case, but are lost later in ontogeny. Development of subsequent body scales shows a more irregular origin and arrangement, from anterior to posterior, to cover the dorsal and ventral lobes of the caudal fin. Although the early developmental pattern of the scale associated with the Heterodontus caudal fin has not been previously described, several chondrichthyan taxa, including chimeroids, likewise possess ordered rows of flank scales early in ontogeny that are subsequently lost. These ordered scales contrast with previous suggestions that chondrichthyan scale development is entirely random. Instead, regulated and sequential development of scales may be a plesiomorphic character for both chondrichthyans and osteichthyans, with the less organized arrangement in later ontogenetic stages being a derived condition within Chondrichthyes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-256
    Number of pages8
    JournalActa Zoologica
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007


    • Chondrichthyes
    • Development
    • Heterodontus
    • Osteichthyes
    • Scales


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