New Bucktoothed Ghost Shark Species Discovered

Posted: Feb 7 2017, 1:07pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 7 2017, 10:05pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

New Bucktoothed Ghost Shark Species Discovered
Credit: Kristin Walovich
 

The newfound creature is the second largest species of ghost shark ever discovered.

A new species of elusive ghost shark has just been discovered in the waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The new species belongs to the genus Hydrolagus. The word came from Greek words “hydro” meaning water and “lagus” meaning rabbit or hare. 

The species can be easily distinguished from all other ghost sharks by its bulky head and strange rabbit-like teeth. This feature has prompted researchers to put the new ghost shark in the genus Hydrolagus, which is known for its buckteeth fish species. 

Named Hydrolagus erithacus, the new species is measured nearly 3 feet long and is the second largest of the ghost shark ever discovered. The discovery also expands the number of known ghost shark species to 50.

“(Ghost sharks) in general have a pretty big head and their body tapers to a thinner tail. This one was really chunky in the front, and just a big bulky specimen.” Lead researcher Kristin Walovich from Pacific Shark Research Center at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California said told Live Science

Newfound species has been described from nine specimens collected from the southeast Atlantic and southwest Indian oceans at depths of around 1,000 meters. This is the same location where other known ghost sharks from genus hydrolagus - H. africanus, H. mirabilis and H. cf. trolli - were also discovered. 

Only two of the specimens were recently caught in a region between South Africa and Antarctica when a fisherman mistook them from another species. The rest were long stored in a museum but sat largely unnoticed in the drawer.

“The scientists and the fishermen in South Africa knew this was not the same species, because Hydrolagus africanus is small, it's brown, and this one was huge and really dark in color,” said Walovich. "Just visibly, they were definitely different species."

Ghost sharks, also known as chimaera, are unusual marine animals that are closely related to shark and ray, but they are not actually sharks. The group was once abundant and diverse but now it is reduced to just few individuals without having any noticable community.

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