The Goblin Shark – The Living Fossil Of The Deep Blue Seas

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A living fossil. Photo: Dianne Bray

This unique deep-sea shark, sometimes known as the Living Fossil, is the only existing member of the Mitsukurinidae family, which dates back over 125 million years.

The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) possesses a number of unique traits that serve to characterize the creature. It features pink skin and an extended, flattened nose, as well as a distinguishing profile. Protruding jaws with nail-like teeth protrude from it. And there’s a lot more.

The goblin shark’s flabby body is combined with short fins, leading experts to believe it moves exceedingly slowly. Because of this, as well as its limited eyesight, the goblin shark has developed an ambush predatory hunting strategy. Because the shark’s low density meat and large oily liver make it neutrally buoyant, it may drift towards its meal without making any movements that would normally frighten it away. When the prey comes within range, the jaws in its mouth spring forward, catching the unwitting snack, which is usually crustaceans, cephalopods, and teleost fish.

The goblin shark’s jaws extend drastically when feeding. Source

When it comes to those jaws, they have a staggering number of teeth placed in many rows. The upper jaw of a goblin shark can have anywhere from 35 to 53 rows of teeth, while the lower jaw can have anywhere from 31 to 62 rows. To put it another way, that’s a whole mouthful of teeth.

The goblin shark’s long snout is coated with “ampullae of Lorenzini,” which allow it to detect even the tiniest electrical fields produced by adjacent prey, which it then grabs up by rapidly extending those jaws.

The goblins shark has an incredible number of teeth in multiple rows and ampullae of Lorenzini that enable it to sense minute electric fields produced by nearby food sources. Photo: Hungarian Snow

The goblin shark, which ranges in size from 9.8 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters), is a true deep water creature that has been collected at depths ranging from 890 to 3,150 feet and as deep as 4,300 feet. Deepwater fisheries, on the other hand, catch only a limited number of goblin sharks unintentionally.

The shark has a 30-35-year lifespan, and adults are reported to live in deeper waters than juveniles. A few individuals have been caught in fishing nets in the Gulf of Mexico and the Sri Lanka region, and there have been tales of the occasional goblin shark found in inshore waters as shallow as 130 feet. Goblin sharks have been found in all three main oceans, indicating that they have a global distribution.

Despite the goblin shark attack depicted in this video, goblin sharks pose no threat to people, as they are deep-sea species that rarely venture into shallower seas. We, on the other hand, pose a threat to them. Unfortunately, there has been evidence of goblin sharks consuming waste discovered on the ocean floor, which is their natural home. Although the animal is now classified as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with their environment slowly filled with more and more human rubbish, this may alter sooner rather than later. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.

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