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The retial system of the locomotor muscles in the thresher shark

  • Q. Bone (a1) and A. D. Chubb (a1)


The red muscle of the thresher-shark myotome is internalized and supplied by a simple rete in connexion with lateral vessels. It is probable that the system enables the fish to be warm-bodied.


Warm-bodied sharks were first described by Carey & Teal (1969); subsequent observations by Carey and his colleagues (Carey et al. 1971) and by Carey (1982) showed that five lamnid species were able to maintain body temperatures 5–10 °C above the ambient water. All of these possess more or less elaborate retia linking a red muscle mass lying internally in the myotomes with the systemic circulation. In cold-bodied sharks, the red muscle lies superficially, just under the skin, and retia are absent. A sixth lamnid species, the big-eye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus) may be warm-bodied; it has a simple muscle retial system (Carey et al. 1971) which has not been described in detail. The chance capture of a common thresher shark (A. vulpinus) enabled this short description of the retial system in this species.



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Carey, F. G. 1982. Warm fish. In A Companion to Animal Physiology (ed. R. C. Taylor, K. Johansen and L. Bolis,) pp. 216233. Cambridge University Press.

Carey, F. G. & Teal, J. M. 1969. Mako and porbeagle: warm-bodied sharks. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, 28, 199204.

Carey, F. G.Teal, J. M.Kanwisher, J. W.Lawson, K. D. & Beckett, J. S. 1971. Warm-bodied fish. American Zoologist, 11, 137145.

The retial system of the locomotor muscles in the thresher shark

  • Q. Bone (a1) and A. D. Chubb (a1)


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