Tags: Taxonomy,  Bullhead Sharks 

Bullhead Sharks

Order: Heterodontiformes

Bullhead sharks are relatively inelegant for a shark, living clumsily on rocky reefs. They attract very un-shark-like descriptions: cute, clumsy, charming, comical. These adjectives derive not only from the appearance of Bullhead Sharks, which are chubby with features that are part pig and part bull, but also their movement. They wiggle as they swim and are generally inelegant.

Bullhead sharks get their name from their large heads with a heavy brow over their eyes. They have stubby snouts and short mouths. There is a groove running from their nostrils to their mouths. They live around rocky reefs in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, eating crustaceans, sea urchins and mollusks.

Port Jackson Shark

Heterodontus portusjacksoni

Characteristics of Bullhead Sharks

# of Species


Body shape

Rounded, bulky body; grows to 2 to 5.6 feet.

Mouth position

Small mouth underneath; pig-like snout; molar-like rear teeth

Anal fin


Dorsal Fin


Fin spines

Exaggerated spines on both dorsals

# of Gill slits



Oviparous, laying augur-shaped eggs. These eggs get wedged into crevices, providing some protection.

Unique qualities

Pronounced brow; enlarged scales; only order to have both dorsal fin spines and an anal fin.


Marine; shallow coastal waters (usually under 300 feet, but can be as deep as 900 feet) in warm temperate and tropical oceans: western and eastern Pacific and western Indian oceans; bottom-dwelling


Small fish, crustaceans, and molluscs

The 9 Species of Bullhead Sharks

Common name
Heterodontus francisci
Horn Shark
Heterodontus galeatus
Crested Bullhead Shark
Heterodontus japonicus
Japansese Horn Shark
Heterodontus mexicanus
Mexican Hornshark
Heterodontus omanensis
Oman Bullhead Shark
Heterodontus portusjacksoni
Port Jackson Shark
Heterodontus quoyi
Galapagos Bullhead Shark
Heterodontus ramalheira
Whitespotted Bullhead Shark
Heterodontus zebra
Zebra Bullhead Shark


Red indicates inclusion on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species