The goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni, is a deep-sea shark, the sole living species in the family Mitsukurinidae. It is truly an odd and lonely creature. Identified mainly by the unusual shape of its head, or snout, which is much longer than other sharks, and also its odd coloured pink skin, the weirdest and coolest aspect of this unusual shark is its retractable jaw, which resembles that nasty critter Sigourney Weaver zonked out of the spacecraft in Alien. It can extend its jaws out of its mouth in order to catch its unsuspecting prey, which include squid, crabs and fish. Oh, and the occasional nosy Japanese diver, as evidenced in this video:
Mitsukurina owstoni is found in the deep ocean, far below where the sun's light can reach at depths greater than 200 m. They can be found throughout the world, from Australia in the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean. They are best known from the waters around Japan, where the species was first discovered by modern science. The pink colouration, unique among sharks, is due to blood vessels underneath a semi-transparent skin (which bruises easily).
The shark's common name is a translation of the Japanese name tenguzame, which was the original term that Japanese fishermen used to refer to the shark prior to its description. It refers to the goblin-like tengu of Japanese folklore, which has a long nose reminiscent of the goblin shark's snout, rather than being a rendition of the fisherman's most likely exclamation when one of these ugly critters decides that Japanese fisherman is on tonight's menu - these monsters from the Eocene can grow up to to 11 feet (3.3 m) long and weigh 350 lb (159 kg). Oh, and did I mention the extending jaws? Just in case you think you might be quick enough to avoid the jaws, these nasty critters also have a tongue-like muscle which they use to suck prey into those hideous teeth.
Thankfully, encounters with these pointy-nosed nightmares are rare, so the odds of actually meeting one face-to-jaws are pretty remote.
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