The Cartilaginous Endoskeletons in Fishes

A diverse group having over 700 species known as chondrichthyes are found throughout the ocean and some freshwater environments. Cartilaginous groups constitute a skeleton of soft and flexible cartilage. Cartilage in the endoskeleton is both tough and flexible that provides sufficient structural support. The support cartilage provides enable chondrichthyes fishes to grow to considerable size. Cartilaginous groups also lack an air-filled swim bladder which is found generally in bony fishes. To stay afloat, they must swim continuously. Cartilaginous male fish have a specialized organ for mating having a pelvic clasper. The buccal cavity is centrally positioned and their tail’s position is heterocercal.

Endoskeletons Structure of Cartilaginous Fishes:
A skeleton that is present inside the body is called an endoskeleton. They usually develop either in deeper body tissues or within the skin. However, the vertebrate endoskeleton is made up of cartilage and bone – both are types of tissues. The endoskeleton is composed of cartilage and notochord during early embryonic development. In the adult cartilaginous fishes, the vertebral column replaces the notochord in most vertebrates. However, cartilage replaces bones. The cartilage tissues are mineralized in various parts of the endoskeleton and form a primitive cranium. This structure of the endoskeleton gives support, shape, and protection to the body. It also provides a means of locomotion.

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Mesodermal tissue derives a true endoskeleton which is present in echinoderms and chordates.

The endoskeleton of Porifera consists of microscopic siliceous spicules or calcareous or a sponging network.

There is no true endoskeleton of Coleoidae in the evolutionary sense. They have a mollusk exoskeleton. The exoskeleton evolves into various sorts of internal structures. For instance in cuttlefish, the cuttle boneis the well-known version.

Cartilaginous tissue in the cuttlefish’s head is not mineralized but it forms a primitive cranium.

Advantages of Cartilage Endoskeletons:

The advantage of endoskeletons over exoskeletons is the living tissue. The endoskeleton grows, with the rest of the body, in tandem.

In the endoskeleton, it is not necessary to shed their outer skeleton to grow from infancy to adulthood.

During the molting process, due to the presence of an endoskeleton, these cartilaginous fishes don’t become vulnerable.

They provide a lot of protection to the internal organs.

Endoskeletons Variations in Vast Ocean:
Endoskeleton varies in several forms. They can differ in the following ways:




Depends on the fish’s requirement.


Endoskeleton of a Sword Fish

Endoskeleton comprises of mineralized tissue, in most vertebrates, in the form of bone and cartilage. During embryogenesis, the ‘true skeleton’ of chondrichthyes fishes is formed from the mesoderm.

Chondrichthyes Endoskeleton Classification:
A few of large chondrichthyes Vertebrate Fishes:

Megalodon: It is the largest known cartilaginous fish to have ever survived. They have about 70 feet long cartilage endoskeleton. Megalodon weighs more than 50-100 tons.

Basking Shark: The second-longest cartilaginous fish having about 40 feet long cartilage endoskeleton. They weigh about 19 tons.

Manta Ray: The second-longest cartilaginous fish having about 30 feet long cartilage endoskeleton.

A few of Small Chondrichthyes Vertebrate Fishes:

Short-nose electric ray: The smallest cartilaginous fish having about 4 inches long cartilage endoskeleton. They weigh about 1 pound.

Starry Skate: Their cartilage endoskeleton is about 30 inches long.

Pale Cat Shark: Their cartilage endoskeleton is about 8 inches long

Dwarf Lantern Shark: Their cartilage endoskeleton is about 7 inches long.

Chondrichthyes Invertebrate Fishes: The invertebrates such as Porifera (sponges) and cnidarians (jellyfish) have a form of endoskeleton known as a hydrostatic skeleton. They consist of a cavity, coelom instead of bone or cartilage. The coelom is filled with mesohyl which is a gelatinous substance and fluid pressure supports the cartilage endoskeleton.

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