An extremely rare Goblin Shark has arrived at the Australian Museum in Sydney – the fourth specimen of its kind now held there.
A video of the "alien-like" shark arriving at the museum has been shared, with Merimbula Aquarium aquarist Michael McMaster providing an insight into the bizarre biology of the creature from the deep.
The specimen was caught by a commercial fisher off Eden, New South Wales in water several hundred metres deep. It is a juvenile male measuring 1.26m in length.
"What makes the rarely seen Goblin Shark so unusual is its bizarre 'alien-like' jaw mechanism. As its jaws close, two ligaments are stretched," the museum said in a statement. "The act of opening the mouth releases the tension on the ligaments resulting in the jaws being thrust forward.
"One of the other weird-looking things about this shark is its long flattened snout, the lower side of which is covered with pores. These are the openings to the 'ampullae of Lorenzini', a sensory system that allows the electroreception of prey.
"Food items are believed to include fishes, octopuses, squids, shrimps and crabs. Sadly the gut of our fish was empty, so we can't describe its last meal."
Of the other three specimens held by Australian Museum, one is another juvenile and two are adults measuring 3.6 and 3.8m in length.
All four were caught off the coast of New South Wales between Sydney and Eden.
Not much is known about Goblin Sharks as they are caught so rarely. However, their appearance has earned them the nickname "living fossil". John Carlson, a shark expert at NOAA, told National Geographic: "We don't know how long they live; we don't know how often they reproduce, or even how big they are when they reproduce. They're a mystery."