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Rays are among the largest fishes and evolved from sharklike ancestors nearly 200 million years ago. They share with sharks many life history traits: all species are carnivores or scavengers; all reproduce by internal fertilization; and all have similar morphological and anatomical characteristics, such as skeletons built of cartilage. Rays of the World is the first complete pictorial atlas of the world's ray fauna and includes information on many species only recently discovered by scientists while undertaking research for the book. It includes all 26 families and 633 valid named species of rays, but additional undescribed species exist for many groups.
Rays of the World features a unique collection of paintings of all living species by Australian natural history artist Lindsay Marshall, compiled as part of a multinational research initiative, the Chondrichthyan Tree of Life Project. Images sourced from around the planet were used by the artist to illustrate the fauna. This comprehensive overview of the worlds ray fauna summarizes information such as general identifying features and distributional information about these iconic, but surprisingly poorly known, fishes. It will enable readers to gain a better understanding of the rich diversity of rays and promote wider public interest in the group.