When a rare shark was caught, scientists were left blundering for answers. This shark has a unique feature. And it’s not that it can survive at extreme depths or live for an extended period of time. This shark’s unique trait is that it can extend its jaw in a telescoping fashion beyond its mouth. If you’ve ever seen the hit science fiction movie “Alien,” this shark is that monster made manifest on earth. This shark stalks its prey and then lashes out with its telescoping teeth to snatch large fish and swallow them in one bite. It’s a deadly predator of the deep sea.
Besides its telescoping teeth, this shark can glow in the dark and was only recently discovered back in 1986. In the three decades since it was first found, just a select few of this exotic shark species have been found.
But during a routine survey in the Donghe Township in Taiwan, the country’s Fisheries Research Institute found five of these horrifying deep-sea sharks.
The team was notably horrified and described “the most obvious feature are the needle-shaped teeth, like snake-like fangs. This is also the origin of viper shark name.”
That’s right. This beast is called the viper shark. And as you can tell by its name, it is ferocious with its prey.
Although researchers have gotten their hands on a few of these animals, little is known about them. But researchers think these creatures swim between 300-400 meters under the surface of the ocean during the day to 150 meters below at night. Could this be because of temperature changes or is it something to do with light?
The last five specimens were trawled up from a depth of 350 meters below the surface of the sea. Four were already dead. But a living specimen was immediately immersed in cool seawater. But it could not handle the sudden change in its habitat. It perished just a day later.
While viper sharks look like the Alien monster from the movie, they do not feed on humans. Their main food sources are crustaceans and bony fishes. One of their favorite lunch items is the lanternfish. These creatures might be attracted toward the shark because of their glow-in-the-dark bodies. And when they swim close enough, the shark lashes out with its extendable jaw and snatches the fish up and devours it whole.
The first specimens of viper shark were found off the coast of Shikoku Island in Japan in 1986. Bottom-trawler vessel Seiryo-Maru was the first to haul these creatures up to the surface of the sea.
Because the fish was a new discovery at the time, it’s scientific name honors the Seiryo-Maru captain, Hiromichi Kabeya. The shark’s scientific name was Trigonognathus kabeyai.
Although not much about these fish are known, scientists classify them in as a dogfish shark. They have only been found in the deep parts of the Pacific Ocean.
How would you react if this shark came up on the other end of your fishing line? Would you think you were having a nightmare?