Slender Smooth-hound - Biology and Ecology

Biology and Ecology

The slender smooth-hound is likely a schooling species. It preys on a variety of benthic fishes and invertebrates, and also scavenges; human garbage has been reported among its stomach contents. Small bony fishes, lanternfishes in particular, are the most important prey type, followed by decapod crustaceans. Cephalopods, gastropods, isopods, brittle stars, dogfish sharks, and cartilaginous fish egg capsules may also be consumed. On the Challenger Plateau, cephalopods are an important food source for juveniles under 50 cm (20 in) long.

Like the false catshark, the slender smooth-hound exhibits aplacental viviparity with oophagy, in a form different from that in the mackerel sharks. Mature females have a single functional ovary, on the right side, and two functional uteruses. Only one embryo develops within each uterus at a time, resulting in litters of two (rarely one) pups. The uterus inner surface is covered by villi. Within a uterus, 30–80 ova 4–8 mm (0.16–0.31 in) across are packed into a single rigid, amber-colored capsule; of these, only one ovum is fertilized and develops into an embryo, while the remaining ova begin to break down. The embryo consumes these other ova and transfers the yolk material into its external yolk sac, which serves as its main source of nourishment during gestation; this oophagous process is completed by an embryonic length of 10–39 mm (0.39–1.5 in). The embryo may also receive secondary nutrition in the form of histotroph ("uterine milk") produced by the mother. When the embryo is 29–40 mm (1.1–1.6 in) long, it emerges from the capsule, which by that time has become translucent and gelatinous. Embryos 4–25 cm (1.6–9.8 in) long have well-developed external gill filaments. The external yolk sac is entirely absorbed when the embryo is 34–42 cm (13–17 in) long and close to being born. Males and females reach sexual maturity at approximately 70 cm (28 in) long.

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