A tiny shark has been found in the Gulf of Mexico by scientists. This belongs to a completely new species that, interestingly, glows in the absence of light.
Zootaxa, the famed taxonomy journal, recorded the first sighting of such a tiny shark back in 2010. Researchers were helping a sperm whale feed at the Gulf when they chanced upon what became Mollisquama Mississippiensis, or more commonly, the American Pocket Shark.
According to Tulane University, the shark was naturally taken up by Mark Grace, from National Marine Fisheries Service Mississippi Laboratories of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also noted how different it was from other sharks, when they were charting specimens for the survey conducted by NOAA, in 2013.
The recently discovered shark measures at a measly 5.5 inches, illuminates itself using one bioluminescent fluid that helps in attracting prey. It is one of the many subspecies of the famous Kitefin shark.
Even though there has been another such species, currently in possession at Russia’s Zoological Museum, Grace mentions that both are completely different species and from different oceans. This shark was discovered in 1979 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute’s director, Henry Bart believes this to be a humbling experience since the discovery of just one such shark of the Gulf of Mexico is proof of our inadequate knowledge about the Gulf.
Even though both the sharks are different, they are both very rare. Their differences include a lesser number of vertebrae for the Pacific shark and a multitude of light-emitting photophores that could completely gloss over the form of the Gulf Shark. Both the species have a special pocket beneath each gill that contains the luminous fluid.
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Live Science notes the other luminescent shark that has been found- Scyliorhinus rotifer aka the chain catshark, along with the ‘twinkling’ swell shark.
You can read more about it here.