Scientists discover 50th described species of ghost shark

Los Angeles: Scientists have discovered a new shark species with rabbit-like buckteeth and a bulky head, which is the 50th ‘ghost’ shark species known to science.

At nearly one metre in length, the new creature is the second largest species of ghost shark ever discovered, the researchers said.

“(Ghost sharks) in general have a pretty big head and their body tapers to a thinner tail. This one was really chunky in the front, and just a big bulky specimen,” said Kristin Walovich, a graduate student at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in California.

Like some other ghost sharks, the newfound species has rabbit-like buckteeth, prompting researchers to put it in the genus Hydrolagus, which translates to”water rabbit” or “water hare.”

The species name erithacus is the genus name for robin birds, a science portal reported.

There are already three known species in the genus Hydrolagus that live in the same region as the new find, between South Africa and Antarctica in the southeastern Atlantic and southwestern Indian Oceans, the researchers said.

Two of the specimens in the new study came from deep-sea fishermen who mistakenly caught the animals as bycatch. But the other specimens included in the study had been sitting in a museum for years, Walovich said.

“The scientists and the fishermen in South Africa knew this was not the same species because Hydrolagus africanus is small, it’s brown, and this one was huge and really dark in colour,” Walovich said.