Thornback ray (Raja clavata) and thornback ray skeleton

Like sharks, rays and skates have fully cartilaginous skeletons, which provide a stable structure but more flexibility than bone. You can see that, much like fish, rays have defined, er, rays, in their fins. The difference is that while fish tend to have a few unconnected rays and a taught taut tissue between them, the Rajiforms (skates and rays) have many, many rays, which are all connected perpendicularly by collagen. The body is then formed around these rays, which propel the Rajiforms forward in an undulating (wave-like) motion.

A history of the fishes of the British Islands. Jonathan Couch, 1863.

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