A bizarre and very rare goblin shark was recently caught off the Australian coast, and the unusual predator, described by some as an “alien of the deep,” has now found its way into the Australian Museum.
The unusual shark makes its home on the bottom of the sea, and much remains unknown about the species. As Yahoo News points out, goblin sharks, which are characterized by a fleshy snout filled with nail-like teeth, are found throughout the world, in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
The specimen that was recently delivered to the Australian Museum was caught by a fishing trawler in January. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the shark was recovered from a depth of around 656 feet near Eden, off Australia’s southeast coast. The Merimbula Aquarium has since kept the goblin shark preserved, until they donated it to the museum.
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Mark McGrouther, manager of the Australian Museum’s fish collection, called the shark “impressive,” noting that he was thrilled to be able to handle the specimen. Pointing out that goblin sharks are rarely encountered, McGrouther detailed the animal’s fascinating jaw mechanism, which is capable of shooting out from under its snout, ensnaring prey with the shark’s tiny, dagger-like teeth.
“I suspect because it has got soft, flabby musculature, it doesn’t need much energy… so it will swim slowly over the bottom just using its snout like a metal detector. It will be sweeping over the bottom and when it detects a small fish, or a crab or a squid it will shoot those jaws out ‘wham’ and capture whatever it is. It will spear it with those sharp pointed teeth and then just wolf it down whole.”
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The goblin shark is considered to be a living fossil, according to the ABC, and is the only remaining member of the 125-million-year-old Mitsukurinidae shark family. It exhibits major differences from other well known sharks, like great whites and tiger sharks, in both its physical makeup and its hunting behavior.
McGrouther noted that the new specimen was only the fourth goblin shark ever collected by the museum. Underscoring the animals rarity, he noted that the first two sharks were acquired in the 1980s. Samples were taken from the goblin shark for genetic testing, though the animal will be kept intact and made available to scientists for research purposes.
[Image: AFP via the Daily Mail]