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Difference Between Ray and Skate

Ray vs Skate

A ray and a skate are both aquatic animals that belong to almost the same scientific classifications. In terms of scientific classifications, skates and rays belong to the same kingdom (Animalia), Phylum (Chordata), class (Chondrichthyes) and subclass (Elasmobranchii). The class Chondrichthyes is known to have fishes with cartilage for a skeleton and have gill slits on the head. Rays, skates, as well as sharks and sawfish belong to this group. Any further classification (from order to species) between the two animals is already different from each other.

Skates and rays can camouflage themselves on a seabed by burying themselves in the sand and conceal themselves in their environment from their predators or intruders.
The major difference between the two animals is their mode of reproduction. Skates are known to lay eggs or, in technical terms, oviparous. The eggs are released in rectangular pouches or cases called “mermaid’s purses.” The cases are then deposited in a safe place.

On the other hand, rays expel their young as live young and fully formed. This makes them categorized as viviparous. Both female rays and skates abandon their young after birth.
In terms of anatomy, skates have a prominent dorsal fin while rays have a reduced or no dorsal fin at all. Skates also have more flesh in their tails with no spines compared to rays with thin, whip-like tails and a stinging barb. The barb and the poison they carry serve as a protection for the ray from intruders or predators. Skates have no barbs but rely on the projection formations that stick out like thorns on their backs for their protection.

Rays are often in the shape of a kite with a smooth tail while skates have a more round or triangle shape with small fins in the tail. In terms of comparison in size, rays are considered larger than skates. Teeth are also another category of difference between the two. Skates have small teeth while rays have plate-like teeth that are used for crushing food.

Both skates and rays are captured or cultured to provide food items such as scallops or to be used as main ingredients or as a delicacy in a country’s cuisines.


1. Both skates and rays share a number of classifications as well as similar attributes. This includes basic appearance. Both are flattened fishes with a cartilage skeleton, wing-like and enlarged pectoral fins that join at the head. In addition, the arrangement of placoid scales in each animal is irregular.
2. Skates only have three recognized families while rays comprise several families.
3. Both skates and rays often camouflage themselves on the seabed as a method of protection.

4. Basic differences between the two animals include the mode of reproduction (female skates are egg-laying while their counterpart in rays gives birth to their young live and fully-formed) and anatomy.
5. Differences in anatomy include teeth (skates have small teeth; rays have plate-like teeth), size (rays are considered bigger than skates), shape (rays are often kite-shaped while skates are shaped as either rounded or triangular), and tails wherein skates have fleshier tails with small fins and no spine while rays have long, thin tails with barbs.
6. Another difference is their method of protection. Skates have projections on their backs. Meanwhile, rays have barbs and poison in their tails. Species like electric rays, instead of poison, release an electric current instead. In this case, rays can be more dangerous to handle compared to skates.
7. Rays are also more popular than skates. Many species of rays are recognizable like the Manta ray, the stingray, and the electric ray.

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