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'Toothless' Megamouth Shark Washes Up in Philippines

Jan 29, 2015 01:07 PM EST
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A megamouth shark washed ashore in Abay, a province of the Philippines, on Wednesday. This marks the 66th sighting of this incredibly rare deep-sea creature since it was first discovered in 1976.

News of the sighting first spread after Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines and Nonus Evolvus, head of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Regional Emergency Stranding Response Team (BFAR-RESRT), reported the finding via social media.

Evolvus, who was involved in preservation efforts of the carcass, reported that a specialized aquarium was being prepared as of yesterday morning, where a proper necropsy of the animal can be done. In the meantime, the animal is being kept frozen in a nearby ice plant.

Eventually, the specimen may be put on display at the Albay Parks and Wildlife museum after it is properly studied and preserved.

"We named the megamouth 'Toothless' because it looks a lot like a nightfury from the How to Train Your Dragon Movie," Evolvus wrote in an update.

However, while a jet-black, fire-breathing dragon may seem a bit terrifying, the bizarre looking megamouth would have been no threat to locals, even if it were alive.

That's because despite its massive head and gaping jaw, experts know that the megamouth shark isn't a biter. Instead, it is one of just three giant filter-feeding sharks in the sea, feeding on krill and other small prey, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. The other two are the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and the whale shark (Rhincodon typus).

It's also important to note that while most males reach up to about 13 feet long, according to the little data experts have on this species, this latest sample is an impressive 15 footer. How and why he died, however, remains a complete mystery, as there was no sign of external harm or disease on the carcass, according to the BFAR team.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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