life in the seas

Watch: Rare new species of Ghost Shark found in Atlantic and Indian Oceans

The mysterious species has been around since before the dinosaurs.

A fish descended from a 280-million-year old species known as the Ghost Shark was recently spotted in the deep waters of Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Here’s a picture of the second largest ever discovered – nearly 1 meter in length – with rabbit-like teeth and a bulky head. The “hydrolagus erithacus” is the 50th species of ghost shark so far.

“(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,” said Kristin Walovich, a graduate student at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California, to Live Science.

Also known as chimaeras or rat fish, the species are not actually sharks but related to them – they diverged from a common ancestor hundreds of millions of years ago.

Ghost Sharks can grow as long as 1.5 meter in length. They feature exceptionally large eyes, a retractable sex organ located on the head of males and tooth plates (instead of teeth) used for grinding prey. While most fish use their tail to navigate in the water, ghost sharks use their fins like wings.

Ghost sharks were only believed to exist in the form of fossils in museums till some fishermen accidentally caught them in Nova Scotia (image below) and on the African Coast.

'Live Science' reports how Scott Tanner, a fisherman from Nova Scotia spotted knifenose chimaera. Image courtesy: Imgur
'Live Science' reports how Scott Tanner, a fisherman from Nova Scotia spotted knifenose chimaera. Image courtesy: Imgur

So far, there are three other species in the genus, and they all live between South Africa and Antarctica in the southeastern Atlantic and southwestern Indian Oceans.

According to Live Science, not much is known about the reproductive behaviour of chimaeras as they live in the deep sea.

Below is the video of another species, the “Hydrolagus trolli” or the pointy-nosed blue chimaera, in footage captured for the very first time. The pointy-nosed blue chimaera lives at crushing depths up to 6,500 feet below the ocean’s surface off the coasts of California and Hawaii.

Although the video was taken in 2009, it was released only December, 2016 by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

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They are also known as Ray Troll’s chimera, named after an Alaskan artist whose images often feature the alien-looking fish.

"The Artist and the Ratfish” by Ketchikan artist and fish enthusiast Ray Troll.
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