Ghost sharks are mysterious creatures, found below depths of 1,640 feet. Photo: David A. Ebert

Ghost sharks are mysterious creatures, found below depths of 1,640 feet. Photo: David A. Ebert

The Inertia

A new species of ‘Ghost Shark‘ was discovered by researchers off the coast of Thailand. The mysterious deep-sea fish was described in a paper published March 6 in the journal Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Ghost sharks, also known as a Chimaeras, are a small group of cartilaginous fishes that are related to sharks, skates and rays. The mysterious bottom-dwelling creatures live in continental slopes and ocean ridges, and are generally found from depths of about 1,640 feet or more. The total number of chimaera species was previously currently 53, though it has now grown to 54 with this most recent discovery.

The new specimen was discovered in the Andaman Sea off Thailand, by a collaborative deep-sea survey project carried out in 2018. Scientists collected it by trawling the ocean floor, 2,533 to 2543 feet below the surface. It was one of three chimaeroids collected during the survey, though it was initially misidentified as an already-known species.

“Chimaera are rare in this region of the world,” David Ebert, lead author of the study and program director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at San Jose State University in California, told Live Science in an email.

The specimen was eventually recognized as a new species due to a number of distinguishing characteristics. Among the features of the strange-looking fish are a massive head with short snout, large oval eyes, thin body with a long trunk and dark brown, deciduous skin.

The newly identified creature was dubbed Chimaera supapae. According to the report, the name came from the late Supap Monkolprasit, a scientist from Thailand who devoted her life to the study of cartilaginous fishes in the country.

“Evolutionarily, these chimaeras are among some of the oldest lineages of fishes with the lineage going back 300-400 million years,” Ebert added. “The discovery of new species like this chimaera tells us how little we know about the marine environment and how much is still to be explored.”


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