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The Goblin Shark, Mitsukurina owstoni

Photo credit: Snaggle Tooth Hob Goblin. Hungarian Snow/Flickr, CC BY 2.0


The Goblin Shark, Mitsukurina owstoni, is most commonly found along the coast of Japan, although it has a widespread distribution around the world in the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. It gets its name from its likeness to the mythical goblins described in Japanese folklore. It has a long flattened snout, a pale gray colored back and a pinkish underside.


Sometimes referred to as a “living fossil”, this shark is the only living member in its group (Family Mitsukurina). There is also very little known about this deep water species as it lives in depths of up to 1,300 m and is rarely seen. It most likely lives close to the seafloor along the edges of continental shelves. It is also quite a large shark, with a maximum length of 6.17 m estimated by scientists.


The Goblin Shark feeds on fish and squid, and uses its extendable jaw to ambush prey. Its fang-like teeth are attached to 7 cm long bands of skin tissue that can be extended to the full length of the shark’s snout. The extendable jaw is held tightly while the Goblin Shark is swimming but it can function like a catapult when prey is detected! Its long snout also has a special sensing organ that allows it to pick up electric fields produced by nearby prey.

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