‘Demon ghost shark’ with white eyes and spiked nose finally identified
A new – and terrifying – species of shark has been identified more than a decade after a mystery egg was found.
The shark Apristurus ovicorrugatus is a type of deep-sea shark that has remained unidentified since a dead pregnant female specimen was discovered off the coast of Western Australia more than 10 years ago.
With ghostly white eyes, the identity of the weird shark has been something of a mystery but has now been deemed a new species.
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Scientists came across the old egg casings left in storage museum and had another look.
On April 23 confirmation of the new species was published in theJournal of Fish Biology.
It gets its name from derivatives of the Latin words for “corrugated egg,” a note on the appearance of the casings found in the museum.
Speaking toLiveScience about the creature's bizarre white eyes, the study’s lead author Will White said: “This is not a common feature for a deepwater species and only one other species, Apristurus nakayai from New Caledonia and PNG [Papua New Guinea] shares this character."
Apristurus is a type of catshark often known as a “ghost” or “demon” shark and their bizarrely-shaped eggs are referred to as mermaid’s purses.
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Inside one of the eggs, found in 2011, was a late-term embryo all pointing towards the conclusion at the time that this was clearly a shark but not one that matched any of the known species previously identified.
Then two more were found in the Australian National Fish Collection and the pair were matched.
Mr White added: "The egg cases possessed very distinctive longitudinal ridges on their surfaces which were T-shaped in cross-section.
"Only one other species in the world has been found to have egg cases with that form of ridging and that is a different genus entirely."
From here, scientists managed to match these to a shark found over a decade ago that had at the time been misidentified as a South China catshark.
"Luckily the female specimen we found contained an identically ridged egg case and confirmed our suspicions."
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