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New glow-in-the-dark miniature shark species found

The new species is a member of the Lanternshark family which was serendipitously found 1,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

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DNA Web Team

Updated: Jul 27, 2017, 04:56 PM IST

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Scientists have discovered a new species of glow-in-the-dark shark that has an unusually large nose, weighs about two pounds and measures less than a foot.

The new species is a member of the Lanternshark family which was serendipitously found 1,000 feet below the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

"This species is very understudied because of its size and the fact that it lives in very deep water. They are not easily visible or accessible like so many other sharks," said Stephen M Kajiura, professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the US.

It has taken more than 17 years to identify this new species - Etmopterus lailae - since it was first discovered but was well worth the wait as this elusive creature is yet to be seen in the wild, researchers said. "The unique features and characteristics of this new species really sets it apart from the other Lanternsharks," Kajiura said.

"For one thing, it has a strange head shape and an unusually large and bulgy snout where its nostrils and olfactory organs are located. These creatures are living in a deep sea environment with almost no light so they need to have a big sniffer to find food," he said.

Some of the other distinctive characteristics include its flank markings that go forward and backward on their bellies, a naked patch without scales on the underside of its snout, along with internal differences such as the number of vertebrae they have and fewer teeth than other sharks.

Like other Lanternsharks, the Etmopterus lailae is bio- luminescent and the flanks on the bottom of its belly glow in the dark. These markings on its belly and tail also were specific to this new species, researchers said. "The research team's discovery of a new shark species is evidence of how much is still undiscovered in our world," said Ata Sarajedini from Florida Atlantic University.

"This new species is the tip of the iceberg for what else might be out there and the great potential for all of the yet-to-be described species that still need to be explored," Sarjedini added. The study was published in the journal Zootaxa.

 

 

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