Body depressed at front; head, pectorals and front of body in a large diamond shaped disc, ending in an elongate, flattened snout equipped with a row of 17-20 large, flattened teeth along each side; eyes and spiracles on top of head; mouth wide, underneath; gills under head; 2 large, shark-like, widely separated dorsal fins, origin of first dorsal fin well forward of pelvic fin origin; pectorals triangular, attached to rear of head; no anal fin; tail large, stout, fin broad, with a distinct small lower lobe; body covered with flat denticles.
Dark grey to golden brown, whitish on ventral surface; specimens in freshwater are pale grey.
Grows to about 650 cm and estimated weight of 590 Kg.
Inhabits shallow bays and estuaries, also entering rivers.
Depth: 1-10 m.
Eastern Pacific and the east and west Atlantic; in our region from the southern Gulf of California to Peru.
The status of the species in the eastern Pacific is questionable. We treat it as P. pristis, which elsewhere occurs in the Atlantic. However, it may be a separate endemic species P. zephyreus.
Note: While there are reports of a second species of sawfish, P. pectinata, in the eastern Pacific, that has yet to be unequivocally demonstrated. P. pectinata lacks a definite lower lobe on its tail fin, has 25-32 teeth on each side of the saw, has narrow, angular pectoral fins, and has the origin of its first dorsal fin directly over that of the pelvic fins.