Plants and Animals

Researchers Discover Glow-In-The-Dark Shark

December 30, 2015 | by Alfredo Carpineti

Photo credit: The newly discovered ninja lanternshark. Vásquez V.E., Dr. Douglas Long & Ross Robertson/JOSF

The fear created by the great white shark in "Jaws" has a lot to do with it being unseen for most of the movie. So spare a thought for the prey of this newly discovered shark, which has evolved to hunt unseen.

The ninja lanternshark has black skin that allows it to blend in with the depths of the ocean where it hunts. The black skin is not the only trick up the fin of this predator, as the shark also glows in the dark, a deadly combination.

The shark grows to about half a meter (1.6 feet) in length and lives at a depth of about 1,000 meters (3,300 feet). Eight specimens have been discovered off the Pacific coast of Central America so far. The animal was discovered by the Pacific Shark Research Center in California and the findings have been published in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation

The Latin name for the newly discovered shark is Etmopterus benchley, named after Peter Benchley, the author of "Jaws." According to Hakai Magazine, its common name was suggested by the young cousins of researcher Vicky Vasquez, who were so impressed by the sleek appearance of the new animal that they called it "super ninja shark." 

According to Vasquez, the ninja lanternshark is almost invisible to its prey. The shark uses photophores in its skin to produce a faint glow that, in combination with its black skin, allows the shark to blend in with the limited light in the depths of the ocean. Photophores are organs that emit light, and they are more sparse in this species of lanternshark in comparison to similar species. 

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