New discoveries in science happen every day, every hour, sometimes every minute.
Some 15,000 to 18,000 new species are discovered each year, and given our propensity for finding, cataloguing and indexing these new species, it can be easy to rest on our laurels and stop really caring about this so much. Another day, another 42 or so new species. (About half of the new species discovered are insects. While this is no doubt exciting to entomologists, it’s tough to get the general public excited about new insects in the world.
Many of us would prefer they not exist, and we don’t need to know any more about them.)
One particular group of animals that always titillates human beings, though, is sharks. Sharks fascinate and mesmerize us. So when a new species of shark has been discovered, and it comes with a few seriously ferocious accessories, it’s pretty awesome news. Among the accessories: it’s pitch-black, it glows in the dark, and it’s terrifying-looking. The shark has been given the technical name etmopterus benchleyi, a reference to Peter Benchley, the author of “Jaws”.
As nearly-unpronounceable and therefore cool-sounding as etmopterus benchleyi is, however, it just wouldn’t do to refer to this species using its scientific name in polite conversation. Fortunately, four young cousins of one of the researchers who made the discovery were more than willing to lend a hand in its common christening: the ninja lantern shark.
The ninja lantern shark was named for its all-black coloring, like a ninja’s dress, and its bioluminescent organs, which glow blue-green, similar to other lantern sharks. This discovery is particularly exciting because it’s the first deep sea-dwelling shark species found in the Pacific off of the coast of Central America. Theories abound on their use of their bioluminescence: it could be for schooling purposes, creating shadows to render them invisible to predators from above, or even mating routines. Considerable studies are still being conducted on these creatures.
Starting to rethink your upcoming trip to Costa Rica? Have no fear: you won’t be running into these frightful-looking predators anytime soon, unless you start specializing in deep-sea diving expeditionary work. The ninja lantern sharks dwell at depths of around 1,000 meters below the ocean’s surface.