Taiwan’s Fisheries Research Institute picked up several specimens of an extremely bizarre shark with several abnormal features during a survey.
Their scientific name is Trigonognathus kabeyai, but the rare sharks have a nickname that reflects their distinctly creepy appearance. They’re called viper sharks.
Firstly, these strange creatures glow in the dark. As if that’s not weird enough, they also have rows of sharp, fang-like teeth and a jaw that the shark quickly extends beyond its mouth to catch prey and devour them in a single bite.
The viper shark’s extendable jaw makes it eerily reflective of the extra-terrestrial beast from the hit science fiction movie franchise “Alien.”
The sharks were pulled up from the deep sea off the Taiwanese coast, and four of them died quickly. A fifth survived for about 24 hours.
The sharks are rarely seen, and so little is known about them that scientists aren’t sure if they’re endangered or not. Perhaps the random find indicates that there’s more of them down there than we think.
Fox News reports:
The glow-in-the-dark beast is so incredibly rare that only a handful have been caught since they were first discovered in 1986.
Taiwan’s Fisheries Research Institute said it had picked up five of the creatures near Donghe Township during a routine survey.
Describing them, it said: “The most obvious feature are the needle-shaped teeth, like snake-like fangs; this is also the origin of viper shark name.”
Because they are so seldom seen, little is known about viper sharks =- but they’re believed to migrate from 300m-400m deep during the day to 150m deep at night.
Of the latest specimens – which were caught at a depth of 350m – four were dead and the living shark was immersed in cool seawater, but died a day later.
The viper shark diet comprises crustaceans and bony fishes, including lanternfishes – perhaps attracted by the predator’s glowing body.
The species was first discovered in 1986 off the coast of Shikoku Island, Japan, by the bottom-trawler, Seiryo-Maru.
The sharks were first discovered around Japan in 1986. Since then, we’ve learned that they aren’t localized to that particular territory. They’ve even been found near Hawaii.
The latest find may provide scientists with some further information about the “alien” fish.
From Live Science:
For starters, researchers named the small shark “Trigonognathus” because of the peculiar, triangular shape of its jaws, according to a 1990 study in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology. Its species name honors Hiromichi Kabeya, the captain of the bottom trawler (a fishing boat that casts out large nets) that found the previously unknown species.
Over the years, researchers have found T. kabeyai off the coasts of Hawaii, Japan and Taiwan. But the tiny shark, which ranges from 7 to 21 inches (17 to 54 centimeters) in size, is considered benthopelagic, meaning it hangs out near the bottom or in the mid-depths of the ocean, where it chows down on bony fish and crustaceans, according to a 2003 study in the journal Ichthyological Research.
Its pointy teeth and glowing underside intrigue scientists. Whereas other sharks have teeth designed to cut and shred, the viper dogfish has canine-like teeth that are slender and widely spaced. In a Jan. 10 tweet, Taiwan News wrote that “even the overseas media and people are amazed by Taiwan’s ‘strange alien fish.'”
According to Live Science, no one has yet observed the jaw extending means for hunting these sharks seem capable of. Lucky for us.
These things may be small, but they’re still pretty terrifying.