The 50th ghost shark known to science has been recently recorded. Little is still known about the newly discovered species, but apart from being the 50th recorded ghost shark species, it is also the fourth ghost shark species classified under the genus Hydrolagus because of its distinctive "buckteeth."
The new discovery, now called H. erithacus, was made between South Africa and Antarctica, in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
This area is the very same location where the first three Hydrolagus species, the H. mirabilis, H. africanus, and H. cf. trolli were discovered. Each was so named because of the appearance of rabbit-like "buckteeth" protuberances at the front of their mouths. Hydrolagus translates to "water rabbit" or "water hare."
A Closer Look At The Bucktoothed Ghost Shark
At 3 feet, the Bucktoothed ghost shark is the second largest species of ghost shark ever discovered. While ghost sharks generally have big heads and thin tails, the H. erithacus is a hefty creature.
Among the specimens studied in the research, two of them were accidentally caught by deep sea fishermen, while the other specimens had been lying in museums for years.
Though very little is still known about the Bucktoothed ghost shark and ghost sharks in general, researchers have found an interesting clue regarding the mysterious creature's behavior. One of the specimens contained a crab claw in its stomach.
Lead researcher Kristin Walovich says this could mean that the H. erithacus uses its strong "teeth" to crush crustaceans on the sea floor.
Ghost Sharks Aren't Sharks
Despite their name, ghost sharks technically aren't sharks. If anything they are close relatives of the predator along with rays but still not quite close enough to be classified as such. The prehistoric creatures have been around for quite a long time, likely even before the dinosaurs came along. It was possible these deep sea dwellers separated from sharks and rays some 300 million years ago. Mystery continues to surround them as they remain in the depths of the sea.
Just before 2016 ended, a surprising video of the pointy-nosed blue ghost shark emerged, marking the very first time in history that these ancient creatures were documented alive in their habitat.
The accidental encounter was such an important breakthrough in the study of ghost sharks because it shed light on the creature's behavior and habitat. Analysis of the skull of a D. Oosthuizeni, yet another ancient deep sea creature, helped scientists understand the evolutionary process of the ghost shark.