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Small Shark With Light-Up Cells Discovered

Dec 24, 2015 06:51 PM EST
Ninja Lanternshark
A new lanternshark was recently discovered; its home is in waters off the coast of Central America. It is dark in color and has cells that allow it to glow.
(Photo : Pacific Shark Research Center)

A new and special species of shark, called the Ninja Lanternshark, has been newly discovered and lives off Central America. Its name came from four children who noticed that the shark has jet-black skin, bulging eyes and cells that make it glow in the dark.

Its scientific name is a hat-tip to Peter Benchley, who is the author of Jaws and a shark-lover. It is called Etmopterus benchleyi.

Researcher Vicky Vásquez with the Pacific Shark Research Center (PSRC) in California derived the shark's non-scientific name from a conversation with her four young cousins, who liked hearing about the shark's stealth, dark cloaking, and ability to light itself--and surmised that it was a ninja.

"We don't know a lot about lanternsharks. They don't get much recognition compared to a great white," Vásquez said in an article in Hakai Magazine. "So when it came to this shark I wanted to give it an interesting story." 

Despite its ninja status, this one was found--and other sharks are out there in the world's oceans waiting to found and described, noted Dave Ebert, program director for the PSRC, in the article. "About 20 percent of all shark species have been discovered in just the last ten years."

This newly named fish is the first lanternshark to be found in waters off Central America.

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

-Follow Catherine on Twitter @TreesWhales

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