Onchopristis is a large genus of sawskate from the Early to Late Cretaceous (Barremian-Cenomanian). The species fossils found in various places that concluded its habitat, like North America, North Africa, Brazil, and New Zealand. [1]

This genus includes two species, O. numida and O. dunklei. Speculated to be euryhaline (saltwater and freshwater tolerance), it swam up the rivers of the Bahariya Formation and the other locales it is found in. Both species are around 3.25 to 4.5 metres in length.


Despite formerly being classified within Pristidae, or the sawfishes, more recent phylogenetic analyses suggest it belonged to a family known as Sclerorhynchidae in the order Rajiformes, closer to skates (Rajidae) than pristids. A more recent phylogenetic analysis suggests that Sclerorhynchidae split up into several families, all under the clade Sclerorhynchoidea.

Onchopristis belonged to Onchopristidae as a result of the new phylogenetic analysis.


The rostrum, or snout, was around 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long, lined with barbed teeth. In the type species, O. numidus, there is a single barb for each tooth, whilst O. dunklei had 2 to 5. An exceptionally preserved Libanopristis shows that Onchopristis might've not looked that much like a sawfish, with skate like fins and a long, fleshy tail. Inferring from skates, there might be small barbs on the back of the creature.


As with modern sawfish, Onchopristis's eyes were on top of its head, potentially to spot possible predators; and its mouth and gills were under its body. It used its long rostrum to detect prey under the sand. Unlike sawfish, sawskates had barbed teeth on their rostrum; potentially as a defence mechanism as at least two genera (Onchopristis and Atlanticopristis) lived alongside spinosaurids, which possibly hunted them. They are probably oviparous, depositing egg cases upstream, away from predators.

Most of the time, it was possible that it lived out in the ocean.

In popular culture[]