A Guide To The Most Unusual Types Of Sharks
The word “shark” often brings to mind a vision of the typical fish prominently featured in movies, but there are some types of sharks that few people have ever seen. These are some of the most unusual of the species, making them also some of the most mysterious sharks in the world.
Profile Of The Shark
There are over 400 species of the order Selachimorpha distributed in the world’s oceans where they are believed to have been for over 400 million years. Ranging from an approximate 7 inches in length to a whopping 40 feet in length, sharks are as diverse as the waters in which they swim. They are without bones; their streamlined bodies featuring cartilage only to make them more flexible and lighter in weight.
All types of sharks are carnivorous, or meat eaters. Their teeth are designed to catch food and rip away flesh. The prey varies between crabs and clams to dolphins and seals, depending on the species.
Sharks have been studied and researched for decades, yet there are some within the species that remain a mystery. This is often due to the fact that the habitat of these creatures is so remote as to be nearly inaccessible to researchers.
- Goblin shark
This variety of shark lives in some of the deepest waters, which explains why so little is known about its behavior and life. It is safe to say that they feed upon other deep sea fish and organisms. This species was first discovered in the waters around Japan, but they can also be found in many other regions around the world. One of the most striking features of the goblin shark is its grayish pink coloration. The snout is flat and dagger-like and longer than the typical shark, protruding from its trowel shaped head. Its jaws are able to be thrust forward at will and the teeth within are as sharp as fangs.
- Megamouth shark
These types of sharks are one of the more recent finds for scientists. Discovered only in 1976, this species was located off the coast of Hawaii, with only 40 others found since that time. So rare is the Megamouth that scientists were forced to create a new genus so as to classify the creature, and information is so scarce as to be considered deficient. The name bestowed upon the creature was due to its natural feature, a gigantic mouth that houses rows to tiny teeth. Based on this, scientists know that Megamouth is a filter feeder, much like a whale shark.
- Six gill sharks
The most unusual thing about six gill sharks is the number of gills. The majority of shark varieties have only five gill slits. The six gill is also called the cow shark or mud shark, and is a prehistoric variety with few members remaining. They are solitary creatures and not a great deal of information is available about them. It is known that they are found throughout the world where they prefer the deepest of depths, although they have inexplicably been found in shallow waters at times. They are not particularly scarce, but thanks to their additional gill they do make the list as being unusual as well as interesting.
Living fossils is the name that these types of sharks have had dubbed to describe this unusual looking fish, although officially they are called the Eastern Pacific black ghost shark. While they have been around at least since 1960, it wasn’t until recently that scientists realized this species belonged to the oldest group of fish called chimaeras that lived in the ocean’s depths millions of years ago. One feature in particular makes these sharks so unusual; the males exhibit a retractable sexual appendage protruding from their heads. Scientists have no proven facts as to the usage for these appendages, although they venture to make theories about them. This variety of shark also possesses “wings”; flat fins that are used to help the creature fly through the watery depths that make up their habitat in their quest for food.
- Cyclops shark
Though it is not an actual variety of shark, the Cyclops does bear mentioning due to its extremely unusual and very rare status. Congenital anomalies are believed to occur in every species, and the recent discovery of a dusky shark fetus with a condition called cyclopia proves that it can happen in the marine world as well. Two scientists in Mexico provided the study of the baby shark that was removed from the womb of its captured mother, and determined that the single eye, located in the front of the pup’s head, determined that the eye would have been a functioning organ. Based on other creatures born with cyclopia, it is unlikely that the shark pup would have survived for long with this condition.
It is interesting to know that there are mysteries that still exist in a world that is so studied and researched, and seeing how little is known about these unusual types of sharks proves that we still have many more mysteries to uncover.