Shorefishes of the Eastern Pacific online information system

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Species: Heterodontus francisci, Horn shark, Pacific horn shark

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eye crest ends abruptly
deeply concave between eyes
no clear bar between eyes
body spots < 1/3 eye
D1 origin over pectoral base
skin denticles small, smooth

Heterodontus francisci (Girard, 1855)


Horn shark,     Pacific horn shark

Head high, conical; snout piglike; mouth small, anterior; a low bony ridge above each eye that ends abruptly at rear; space between eyes deeply concave; nasal grooves before mouth; front teeth on both jaws with 1 large central point and a small point at each side on base of tooth; 5 gill slits, first enlarged, 2-3 over pectoral fin; 2 dorsal fins, each with spine at front; first dorsal fin origin over pectoral base; skin denticles on flank small (~ 200/cm2  in adults) and smooth.

Dark to light grey, back and sides with small dark spots < 1/3 eye diameter; no light bar between eyes; small darks spots on a dusky patch below eye; young brightly colored, with dark saddles.

Size: 122 cm.

Habitat: rocky and sandy habitats, and macroalgal beds.

Depth: 1-150 m, usually 2-11 m.

California to the Gulf of California; possibly Ecuador and Peru.

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  • Marine Only
  • Marine
  • Inshore Only
  • Inshore
Water Column Position
  • Bottom only
  • Bottom
  • Reef (rock/coral/oyster)
  • Reef associated (reef + edges-water column & soft bottom)
  • Sand & gravel
  • Reef and soft bottom
  • Soft bottom (mud/sand/gravel/beach/estuary/mangrove/seagrass)
  • Rocks
FishBase Habitat
  • Demersal
Feeding Group
  • Carnivore
  • Data
  • Mobile benthic crustacea (shrimps/crabs)
  • Sea-stars/cucumbers/urchins
  • Data
  • Bony fishes
  • Mobile benthic gastropods/bivalves
Egg Type
  • No pelagic larva
  • Benthic
  • No data
  • No pelagic phase
Global Endemism
  • All species
  • East Pacific endemic
  • TEP non-endemic
Regional Endemism
  • Continent
  • All species
  • Temperate Eastern Pacific, primarily
  • Continent only
  • California + Peruvian provinces, primarily
  • Tropical Eastern Pacific (TEP) non-endemic
  • Resident
Climate Zone
  • Northern Subtropical (Cortez Province + Sinaloan Gap)
  • North Temperate (Californian Province &/or Northern Gulf of California)
IUCN Red List
  • Data deficient
  • Listed
  • Not listed
Length Max
  • 122
Depth Range Min
  • 1
Depth Range Max
  • 150