The extremely long and narrow lateral head blades of the winghead shark, called a "cephalofoil", distinguishes this shark from all other species. The width of the cephalofoil is 40-50% the body length; it is wing or arrow-shaped from above, with small bumps in front of the nostrils. Unlike in Sphyrna, the nostrils are placed closer to the center of the cephalofoil than the ends, and have enormous lateral extensions that reach almost to the eyes. Its coloration is grey or grey-brown above, paler below. This is a small shark, not more than 1.86 m long.
It sometimes enters the brackish water of estuaries.
The winghead shark feeds mainly on small teleost fishes, but also takes crustaceans and cephalopods.