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Any of nine genera (suborder Rajoidea) of rounded to diamond-shaped rays. These bottom-dwellers are found from tropical to near-Arctic waters and from the shallows to depths of more than 9,000 ft (2,700 m). Most have spines on the upper surface, and some have weak electrical organs in their long, slender tails. Skates lay oblong, leathery eggs (called mermaid's purses), which are often found on beaches. Species vary from 20 in. (50 cm) to 8 ft (2.5 m) long. They swim with an undulating movement of their pectoral fins. They trap active mollusk, crustacean, and fish prey by dropping down on them from above. Skates' wings are edible.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on skate, visit Britannica.com.