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Temporal range: Upper Cretaceous to Recent
Barndoor skate, Dipturus laevis. Notice the extra pair of fins near the base of the tail.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Superorder: Batoidea
Order: Rajiformes
Family: Rajidae
Bonaparte, 1831

For the act of skating, see skating.

Skates are cartilaginous fish. They are the family Rajidae in the order Rajiformes. They are chondrichthyes, and closely related to the rays. There are more than 200 species in 27 genera.[1]

There are two subfamilies, the hardnose skates and the softnose skates.

Skates and stingrays

Skates are a bit like stingrays (they are in the same group), but they are usually smaller with shorter, thicker tails. There is also a difference: skates do not have stingers. Instead, their tails are thicker, with small "thorns" along the edges. At the base of the tail is a set of extra fins, too.

Skates and rays are also different in the way the give birth. Most rays are (the eggs develop inside a mother's body), but skates lay their eggs. This means they are oviparous.


  1. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. 2009. "Rajidae" in FishBase. FishBase online