Published On: Fri, Dec 25th, 2015

Why This Newly Discovered Shark Is A Real Ninja

Several shark species have cool names, like great white, hammerhead, goblin and cookiecutter.

Now, we have one more to add to the list. Meet the newest type of lanternshark: the ninja lanternshark.

Researcher Victoria Vásquez and her colleagues discovered the previously unidentified shark after recovering its body from storage at the California Academy of Science.

It’s the first lanternshark that’s ever been found in Central American waters. Vásquez said they were able to identify it as a lanternshark based on several characteristics. 

“It had photophores (light emitting organs),” she told The Huffington Post, “two dorsal fins with a spine on each one, and dignathic heterodonty (upper teeth and lower teeth are different).”

Vásquez said ninja lanternsharks live in the deep ocean. They have tiny dots that glow throughout their body, which, unlike most bioluminescent creatures, they use to camouflage themselves within the deep’s limited light and sneak up on their prey.

Remind you of anything?

The researchers gave the newly identified shark the scientific name of Etmoterus benchleyi, in homage to the creator of the film “Jaws,” Peter Benchley. 

But Vásquez wanted its common name to be extra special, so she enlisted for helpher younger cousins, who are between the ages of eight and 14.

They went over a few names, including Left Shark Lanternshark and Super Ninja Shark, until finally settling on a name her colleagues would find more reasonable: Ninja Lanternshark.

“The common name we have suggested refers to the shark’s color, which is a uniform sleek black as well as the fact that it has fewer photophores than other species of Lanternsharks,” Vásquez told HuffPost. 

“We felt those unique characteristics would make this species stealthy like a ninja.”

The body of the Ninja Lanternshark that the researchers examined was originally caught in 2010 in the waters of Central America. However, it was sent to the academy for temporary storage where it remained “unlooked at for five years,” Vásquez said.

She is currently helping her colleague, professor Dave Ebert, identify the “lost sharks” that have yet to be described.

“About 20 percent of all shark species have been discovered in just the last 10 years,” Ebert told Hakai Magazine. “My whole research is looking for ‘lost sharks.'” 

Vásquez and her co-author’s findings were published Monday in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.

Also on HuffPost:

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