Vicky Vásquez and her team at the Pacific Shark Research Center in California have identified and described a newly-discovered shark species that’s as weird as they get. This fish is a black deepwater shark that glows in the dark! The combination of dark skin and photophores that produce a subdued glow give this shark the ability to sneak up on prey and avoid predators at the same time. Its taxonomic name is Etmopterus benchleyi, named in honor of Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. For its informal name, Vásquez consulted with several young cousins, the youngest being eight years old.
This super stealth, combined with the animal’s sleek, black appearance led the kids to suggest naming it the “Super Ninja Shark.” Vásquez says she didn’t think her colleagues would quite go for that, so she got them to scale the name back a little.
“We don’t know a lot about lanternsharks. They don’t get much recognition compared to a great white,” says Vásquez, who is a graduate student at the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) in California. “So when it came to this shark I wanted to give it an interesting story.”
The shark is now called the ninja lanternshark, which is about the coolest name ever for a shark. Still, this one poses little threat to humans. It grows to about 18 inches long and stays below 800 meters. You can download the original research paper at the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.
(Image credit: Vicky Vásquez)