The lateral line system allows elasmobranchs to detect hydrodynamic movements in their close surroundings. We examined the distribution of pit organs and lateral line canals in 4 species of sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata, Pristis microdon, P. clavata and P. zijsron). Pit organs could only be located in A. cuspidata, which possesses elongated pits that are lined by dermal denticles. In all 4 pristid species, the lateral line canals are well developed and were separated into regions of pored and non-pored canals. In all species the tubules that extend from pored canals form extensive networks. In A. cuspidata, P. microdon and P. clavata, the lateral line canals on both the dorsal and ventral surfaces of the rostrum possess extensively branched and pored tubules. Based on this morphological observation, we hypothesized that these 3 species do not use their rostrum to search in the substrate for prey as previously assumed. Other batoids that possess lateral line canals adapted to perceive stimuli produced by infaunal prey possess non-pored lateral line canals, which also prevent the intrusion of substrate particles. However, this hypothesis remains to be tested behaviourally in pristids. Lateral line canals located between the mouth and the nostrils are non-pored in all 4 species of sawfish. Thus this region is hypothesized to perceive stimuli caused by direct contact with prey before ingestion. Lateral line canals that contain neuromasts are longest in P. microdon, but canals containing neuromasts along the rostrum are longest in A. cuspidata.
- pit organs
- lateral line