Researchers from Tulane University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found an American pocket shark within the Gulf of Mexico, according to a research revealed within the Zootaxa journal. The tiny shark — the primary of its species to be discovered — is simply five and a half inches long, and may glow in the dark.
The animal is barely the second pocket shark ever captured or reported, a press launch from Tulane University explained. The primary was captured within the Eastern Pacific Ocean in 1979 and is now kept in a museum in Russia.
Researchers decided this pocket shark was a different species than the one found in 1979 because it had several features not seen within the first animal.
The American pocket shark has fewer vertebrae and “quite a few light-producing photophores” covering its physique, in response to the press launch. Meanwhile, both pocket shark species have two “small pockets” that secrete a glowing fluid, which might assist the shark attract prey.
“Within the history of fisheries science, solely two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported,” Mark Grace, one of many co-authors of the research, mentioned. “Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare.”
The Gulf specimen was first caught in 2010, and Grace got here throughout it three years later while examining specimens collected throughout an NOAA survey. Grace and the other researchers then spent years identifying the shark utilizing CT scans, x-rays, and a dissecting microscope.