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Skate and Ray Taxonomy
The cartilaginous fish are collectively known as Chondrichthyans. They are distinguished from the bony fishes by an internal cartilaginous skeleton and from jawless fishes by their true upper and lower jaw.
The taxonomic class Chondrichthyes is divided into two subclasses, the Elasmobranchii (sharks, skates and rays) and the Holocephali (chimaeras). The Elasmobranchii are further divided into super-orders, orders, families, genera and species. Visit our shark taxonomy for more information.
The super-order Batoidea (skates and rays), known as the Batoid fishes, includes over 600 species of skate and ray worldwide, which is around 100 more species than sharks.
Skates belong to the order Rajifores and the family Rajidae, although some species’ common names refer to them as ‘rays’ instead of ‘skate’, leading to confusion in the UK. There are 16 species of skate that are regularly recorded in UK waters.
Historically, all skate and ray species were contained in a single genus (Raja), however taxonomic revisions resulted in the creation of several genera, which in British waters include; Raja, Dipturus, Leucoraja, Amblyraja, Rostroraja and Rajella.
Click here to find out more about all the different species of skate and ray that can be found in British waters.
British Skates and Rays Family Tree:
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