Business Insider Edition

Tiny, glow-in-the-dark sharks have been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico

Lindsay Dodgson , Business Insider US
 Jul 22, 2019, 08:53 PM
The tiny pocket shark.
Mark Doosey / Tulane University
  • A new species of shark has been discovered in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • It's called a pocket shark or Mollisquama mississippiensis (pronounced mah-lihs-KWAH-muh MISS-ih-sip-ee-EHN-sisis.)
  • It is just 14cm long, and has some unusual features like a pouch that squirts out puffs of glowing bioluminous fluid clouds, and light-producing glands all over its body.
  • "In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported," said marine scientist Mark Grace. "Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare."
  • Henry Bart from Tulane University added that the unique shark only further proves how little researchers know about the deep waters of the Gulf, and that "many additional new species from these waters await discovery."
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Think all sharks are big and scary? Think again. Scientists have just discovered a new species of pocket shark in the Gulf of Mexico, which is just 14 cm long.

They have named it the American pocket shark, or Mollisquama mississippiensis (pronounced mah-lihs-KWAH-muh MISS-ih-sip-ee-EHN-sis, according to AP.)

The shark has several unusual features that are described in the journal Zootaxa, including a pouch near the front of its fins which squirts out puffs of glowing bioluminous fluid clouds, and light-producing photophores - glands that look like little lights - all over its body.

Grace et al. / Zootaxa

"In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported," said Mark Grace from the NMFS Mississippi Laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare."

The other pocket shark was discovered in Peru and is 40 cm long. The new species differs in that it might have a special pressure-sensitive organ that detects movement hundreds of feet away, and it might also have fewer vertebrae.

Henry Bart from Tulane University in Louisiana added that the unique shark only further proves how little researchers know about the deep waters of the Gulf, and that "many additional new species from these waters await discovery."

The tiny shark was actually collected in 2010, but it wasn't until Grace was examining specimens in 2013 that he saw it and decided to work out what species it was with Bart and Michael Doosey from Tulane University. Other authors of the study include John S. Denton and Gavin Taylor from the University of Florida, and John Maisey from the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

They used a dissecting microscope, x-ray images, and a high-resolution CT scan to examine and photograph the specimen.

Receive a single WhatsApp every morning with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa:

  • Indicators
  • JSE Indexes
15.21
-0,17%
18.45
-0,13%
16.85
-0,03%
$1,497.93
-0,28%
54081.56
-1,02%
DAILY BUSINESS INSIDER UPDATE

Get the best of our site delivered to your inbox every day.

Sign Up