Looks like a creature straight out of the alien movie! While a team from the Taiwan Fisheries Research Institute in Taiwan was studying fish species off the coast of Taitung, they caught five viper sharks. Since the scientists did not expect such a discovery, they must have suffered quite a shock.
In fact, with its terrifying appearance, the animal can quickly break into a cold sweat. Fortunately, this is a species that is unlikely to harm humans. “The most obvious feature is the needle-shaped teeth, like snake teeth. This is also the origin of its name Viper Shark, ”the researchers told Fox News.
A benthopelagic species
This small shark species, first listed in 1986, whose scientific name Trigonognathus kabeyai means “triangular jaw”, lives in the depths of the oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean. Note that the name pays tribute to its discoverer, Hiromichi Kabeya.
Over the years, researchers have found a few specimens off the coast of Hawaii, Japan, and Taiwan. The small shark, whose size rarely exceeds 50 cm, is extremely rarely considered a benthopelag. In other words, it drags itself at the bottom of the water – up to 400 meters deep – to hunt and, depending on the time of day, sometimes goes up to 150 meters deep.
Photo credit: https://www.aquamaps.org/receive.php?type_of_map=regular
An effective jaw for hunting
To catch small fish or crustaceans, Trigonognathus kabeyai swims with an open jaw. Like whales, this unusual animal devours its prey. When the chameleon throws its tongue to catch a target, the viper shark extends its jaw!
In addition, according to a study published in the Japanese Journal of Ichthyology in 1990, this very rare species has light-generating cells called photophores on its abdomen. She uses it to attract her goals.
The creature was captured off the coast of Taiwan and has been compared to the monster from the science fiction film Alien.
Photo credit: Pen News / Fisheries Research Institute
“While never seen before, these bizarre jaws are likely to be thrown forward quickly to catch elusive prey,” found a 2014 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, reports Live Science.
Note that of the five specimens caught by Taiwanese fishermen, four died instantly. The researchers went out of their way to keep the last one alive, but he also died after just 24 hours. This did not allow them to study the animal closely. Almost nothing is known about the way of life or the biology of the viper shark. In addition, Trigonognathus kabeyai does not benefit from protective measures due to a lack of data. Fortunately, its small size allows fishing nets to be avoided.