Sharks and Rays: Course Preview

Sample Interactive: Week 4: Shark/Ray Comparison

This interactive was developed for the AMNH online course Sharks and Rays, part of Seminars on Science, a program of online graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 educators.

Although there is diversity among the sharks and rays, these two specimens represent typical body plans. Use the following images and interactive specimens to compare the relationship between form and function. Look closely at these representatives of the two groups to explore their similarities and differences.

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Introduction

The catshark and the freshwater stingray illustrate two typical but very different body plans present in elasmobranch fishes. You now have an opportunity to compare the species when you click on any of the three tabs above. This interactive will allow you to view each specimen individually or to manipulate the shark and the ray image together in the same plane at the same time. Hypothesize how the form and function of the body is affected by where the animal lives. For example, think about how each animal moves, feeds, and breathes. Although there is diversity among the sharks and rays, these two specimens represent typical body plans. Use the following images and interactive specimens to compare the relationship between form and function. Look closely at these representatives of the two groups to explore their similarities and differences.

Scyliorhinus stellaris
Nursehound catshark

This catshark specimen measures approximately 20 cm (7.8 in) in total length. Nursehound catsharks spend most of their time near the ocean floor. The curl of the shark's body is the result of storage in a jar in a museum collection. This Scyliorhinus stellaris specimen was collected in 1966 from Ligurian Sea (51 km east of Genoa, Italy) and is preserved in the American Museum of Natural History.
360° View: For a 360-degree view of the specimen, click on one of the links below. Drag your cursor in either a horizontal or vertical direction to change your view of the specimen.

Potamotrygon orbignyi
Reticulated freshwater stingray

This stingray specimen measures approximately 24 cm (9.4 in) in total length (including tail) and about 15 cm (5.9 in) disc length (see course notes for explanation of measurements). It is adapted for living on the river bottom and hides by covering itself with sand. The curled edges on the pectoral disc are a result of storage in a jar in a museum collection. This Potamotrygon orbignyi specimen was collected in the early 1970s from Rio Tapajós, Brazil; and is preserved in the Museu de Zoologia de Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil.
360° View: For a 360-degree view of the specimen, click on one of the links below. Drag your cursor in either a horizontal or vertical direction to change your view of the specimen.

Comparison

Anatomy: Anatomy is another important method for comparing the body plans present in elasmobranch fishes.
360° View: For a 360-degree view of the specimen, click on one of the links below. Drag your cursor in either a horizontal or vertical direction to change your view of the specimen.