Temporal range: Late Silurian–Recent
|Great white shark
Members of the elasmobranchii subclass have no swim bladders, five to seven pairs of gill clefts opening individually to the exterior, rigid dorsal fins, and small placoid scales. The teeth are in several series; the upper jaw is not fused to the cranium, and the lower jaw is articulated with the upper. Extant elasmobranchs exhibit several archetypal jaw suspensions: amphistyly, orbitostyly, hyostyly, and euhyostyly. In amphistyly, the palatoquadrate has a postorbital articulation with the chondrocranium from which ligaments primarily suspend it anteriorly. The hyoid articulates with the mandibular arch posteriorly, but it appears to provide little support to the upper and lower jaws. In orbitostyly, the orbital process hinges with the orbital wall and the hyoid provides the majority of suspensory support.
In contrast, hyostyly involves an ethmoid articulation between the upper jaw and the cranium, while the hyoid most likely provides vastly more jaw support compared to the anterior ligaments. Finally, in euhyostyly, also known as true hyostyly, the mandibular cartilages lack a ligamentous connection to the cranium. Instead, the hyomandibular cartilages provide the only means of jaw support, while the ceratohyal and basihyal elements articulate with the lower jaw, but are disconnected from the rest of the hyoid. The eyes have a tapetum lucidum. The inner margin of each pelvic fin in the male fish is grooved to constitute a clasper for the transmission of sperm. These fish are widely distributed in tropical and temperate waters.
Many fish maintain buoyancy with swim bladders. However elasmobranchs lack swim bladders, and maintain buoyancy instead with large livers that are full of oil. This stored oil may also function as a nutrient when food is scarce.  Deep sea sharks are usually targeted for their oil, because the livers of these species can weight up to 20% of their total weight.
Fossilised shark teeth are known from the early Devonian, around 400 million years ago. During the following Carboniferous period, the sharks underwent a period of diversification, with many new forms evolving. Many of these became extinct during the Permian, but the remaining sharks underwent a second burst of adaptive radiation during the Jurassic, around which time the skates and rays first appeared. Many surviving orders of elasmobranch date back to the Cretaceous, or earlier.
Nelson's 2006 Fishes of the World arranges the class as follows:
- Subclass Elasmobranchii
- †Order Squatinactiformes
- †Order Protacrodontiformes
- †Infraclass Cladoselachimorpha
- †Order Cladoselachiformes
- †Infraclass Xenacanthimorpha
- †Order Xenacanthiformes
- Infraclass Euselachii (sharks and rays)
- †Order Ctenacanthiformes
- †Division Hybodonta
- †Order Hybodontiformes
- Division Neoselachii
- Subdivision Selachii (Selachimorpha) (modern sharks)
- Superorder Galeomorphi
- Superorder Squalomorphi
- Subdivision Batoidea (rays)
- Subdivision Selachii (Selachimorpha) (modern sharks)
Recent molecular studies suggest the Batoidea are not derived selachians as previously thought. Instead, skates and rays are a monophyletic superorder within Elasmobranchii that shares a common ancestor with the selachians.
See also 
- Karatajūte, V. (1973). "Elegestolepis grossi ge. et sp. nov., ein neues typ der placoidschuppe aus dem oberen Silur der Tuwa.". Palaeontographica Abteilung A 143: 35–50.
- Vannuccini, Stefania (2002) Shark liver oil products In: Shark Utilization, Marketing and Trade, Fisheries Technical paper 389, FAO, Rome. ISBN 92-5-104361-2.
- Fowler (2005). "Cetorhinus maximus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
- "Galeorhinus galeus (School shark)". Iucnredlist.org. 2005-06-17. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
- Guallart et al. (2006). Centrophorus granulosus. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
- Benton, M. J. (2005) Vertebrate Palaeontology, Blackwell, 3rd edition, Fig 7.13 on page 185.
- Hoenig, J.M. and Gruber, S.H. (1990) "Life-history patterns in the elasmobranchs: implications for fisheries management" In: Elasmobranchs as living resources: advances in the biology, ecology, systematics and the status of the fisheries, eds. J. H. L. Pratt, S. H. Gruber and T. Taniuchi, US Department of Commerce, NOAA technical report NMFS 90, pp.1–16.
- Wilga, C. D. 2005. Morphology and evolution of the jaw suspension in lamniform sharks. Journal of Morphology, 265, 102-119.
- Wilga, C. D., Motta, P. J. & Sanford, C. P. 2007. Evolution and ecology of feeding in elasmobranchs. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 47, 55-69.
- Wilga, C. A. D. 2008. Evolutionary divergence in the feeding mechanism of fishes. Acta Geologica Polonica, 58, 113-120.
- Bigelow, Henry B.; Schroeder, William C. (1948). Fishes of the Western North Atlantic. Sears Foundation for Marine Research, Yale University. pp. 64–65. ISBN B000J0D9X6 Check
- Oguri, M (1990) "A review of selected physiological characteristics unique to elasmobranchs" In: Elasmobranchs as living resources: advances in the biology, ecology, systematics and the status of the fisheries, eds. J. H. L. Pratt, S. H. Gruber and T. Taniuchi, US Department of Commerce, NOAA technical report NMFS 90, pp.49–54.
- Bone Q and Roberts BL (1969) "The density of elasmobranchs" Journal of the Marine Biological Association, 49: 913–937.
- Palmer, D., ed. (1999). The Marshall Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals. London: Marshall Editions. p. 26. ISBN 1-84028-152-9.
- Winchell, C. J., Martin, A. P. & Mallatt, J. 2004. Phylogeny of elasmobranchs based on LSU and SSU ribosomal RNA genes. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 31, 214-224.
- Douady, C. J., Dosay, M., Shivji, M. S. & Stanhope, M. J. 2003. Molecular phylogenetic evidence refuting the hypothesis of Batoidea (rays and skates) as derived sharks. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 26, 215-221.
- Skaphandrus.com Elasmobranchii