Mammalian articular cartilage is an avascular tissue with poor capacity for spontaneous repair. Here, we show that embryonic development of cartilage in the skate (Leucoraja erinacea) mirrors that of mammals, with developing chondrocytes co-expressing genes encoding the transcription factors Sox5, Sox6 and Sox9. However, in skate, transcriptional features of developing cartilage persist into adulthood, both in peripheral chondrocytes and in cells of the fibrous perichondrium that ensheaths the skeleton. Using pulse-chase label retention experiments and multiplexed in situ hybridization, we identify a population of cycling Sox5/6/9+ perichondral progenitor cells that generate new cartilage during adult growth, and we show that persistence of chondrogenesis in adult skates correlates with ability to spontaneously repair cartilage injuries. Skates therefore offer a unique model for adult chondrogenesis and cartilage repair and may serve as inspiration for novel cell-based therapies for skeletal pathologies, such as osteoarthritis.