Collections Snapshot – Sawfish Snout

 

Emma Bernard, who was Acting Assistant Curator of Biology, found this amazing sawfish snout in one of our stores. It is part of the Yorkshire Museum Natural History Collection.

Emma Bernard holding the sawfish snout

Emma Bernard holding the sawfish snout

Sawfish snout – Yorkshire Museum
Discovered lurking in a dark corner of Marygate, a strange looking object was found…
This object which resembles a chainsaw actually belongs to a sawfish, which are tropical rays related to sharks. A critically endangered group, they can be found in tropical and sub tropical waters in the Atlantic and around Australia. Sawfish can grow to large sizes, specimens up to 20 feet in length are quite common with ‘saws’ up to 6 feet in length.
Sawfish have a long flat body with a prominent flat blade at the front of the animal which is armed with strong tooth-like structures. These enlarged teeth are firmly implanted in sockets in the cartilage of the snout (rostrum).

sawfish2

Electroreceptors are contained within the snout which detects heartbeats of prey buried within the sediment such as prawns and other invertebrates. Sawfish use their snout for digging out buried prey and as it is motion sensitive, they can detect and slash at prey swimming past. A truly fascinating and impressive creature.

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