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CAAB: 37043000


Elephant Fishes, Elephantfishes, Plownose Chimaeras

Compiler and date details

15 April 2011 - John R. Paxton, Jennifer E. Gates & Douglass F. Hoese


Three species and one genus from the temperate latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere are currently recognised in the Callorhinchidae (Last and Stevens, 2009), but no direct comparisons of the forms on each southern continent have been made recently. One species occurs in Australia.

The elephant fishes or plownose chimaeras were briefly examined by Fowler (1941); there is no recent revision of the family. Didier (1995) treated relationships of the family.

Elephant fishes are bottom dwellers of the inshore and continental shelf. Their diet includes crabs, shrimps, shellfishes and small fishes. Unlike the other two families of chimaeras, elephant fishes have a broad, flexible snout process, a short-based second dorsal fin and a distinctly heterocercal tail. They attain up to 1.2 m in length. In New Zealand, they are of some commercial importance.

The recognition of Callorhinchus Lacépède, 1798 rather than Callorhynchus Meuschen, 1781 as the first valid use of the name (see below) requires re-examination of the spelling of the family name. Article 40 of the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature states the family name is not to be changed when the type genus is rejected as a junior synonym after 1960; Callorhynchus was rejected as an invalid name in 1954. As all the literature necessary to determine the first use of the family name is not available to us, we here, provisionally, follow Fowler (1941), Bigelow & Schroeder (1953) and Eschmeyer (1997) in using Callorhinchidae.


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
16-Apr-2012 16-Apr-2012 MODIFIED
17-Mar-2010 MODIFIED