Bowmouth guitarfish (Rhina ancylostoma)
The bowmouth guitarfish is a species of ray. This rare species occurs widely in the tropical coastal waters of the western Indo-Pacific.
This large species can reach a length of 2.7 m (8.9 ft). The jaws are heavily ridged with crushing teeth arranged in wave-like rows. Usually found near the sea floor, the bowmouth guitarfish prefers sandy or muddy areas near underwater structures.
It is a strong-swimming predator of bony fishes, crustaceans, and molluscs. This species gives live birth to litters of two to eleven pups, which are nourished during gestation by yolk. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed the bowmouth guitarfish as Vulnerable because it is widely caught by artisanal and commercial fisheries for its valuable fins and meat.
The bowmouth guitarfish, often described as prehistoric in appearance, is considered by some scientists to be the ‘missing link’ between sharks and rays based on the ray-like placement of the mouth and gill openings, and disc shape of the front part of the body and the shark-like streamlined appearance of the rest of the body and the powerful tail.