Butterfly ray

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Butterfly rays
Gymnura micrura .jpg
Smooth butterfly ray (G. micrura)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Myliobatiformes
Family: Gymnuridae
Fowler, 1934
Genus: Gymnura
van Hasselt, 1823
Type species
Gymnura micrura
Bloch & Schneider, 1801
  • Aetoplatea Valenciennes in Müller & Henle, 1841
  • Phanerocephalus Gratzianov, 1906
  • Pteroplatea Müller & Henle, 1837

The butterfly rays are the rays forming the genus Gymnura and the family Gymnuridae. They are found in warm oceans worldwide, and occasionally in estuaries.

The body of butterfly rays is flattened and surrounded by an extremely broad disc formed by the pectoral fins, which merge in front of the head. They have a very short, thread-like, tail.[1] They are up to 4 m (13 ft) in width.[2]

McEachran et al. place the butterfly rays in the subfamily Gymnurinae of the family Dasyatidae,[3] but this article follows FishBase and ITIS in treating them as a family.[4][5]


There are currently 10 species in this genus (others are considered synonyms):[2][6]

Spiny butterfly ray (Gymnura altavela)


  1. ^ Stevens, J. & Last, P.R. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-12-547665-5. 
  2. ^ a b Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2017). Species of Gymnura in FishBase. January 2017 version.
  3. ^ J. D. McEachran, K. A. Dunn & T. Miyake (1996). "Interrelationships of the batoid fishes (Chondrichthyes: Batoidea)". In M. L. Stiassny; L. R. Parenti; G. D. Johnson. Interrelationships of Fishes. Academic Press. 
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2006). "Gymnuridae" in FishBase. January 2006 version.
  5. ^ "Gymnuridae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 27 March 2006. 
  6. ^ Last; Naylor; Séret; de Carvalho; Corrigan; and Yang (2016). Last; and Yearsley, eds. "The Rays of the World project - an explanation of nomenclatural decisions". Rays of the World. CSIRO: 1–10.