Washington, September 23 (ANI): Scientists have identified a bizarre new ghostshark, the male species of which has a club-like sex organ on its forehead.
According to a report in National Geographic News, named the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark, the news species uses winglike fins to "fly" through its dark habitat, thousands of feet deep off the coasts of California and Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
The ghostshark seems to have flown under the scientific radar too. Since the 1960s, experts have been finding specimens of the strange, 3-foot-long (0.9-meter-long) fish, which ended up nameless in museum collections around the world.
It wasn't until after a team recently searched through shelves of "dead pickled fish" that the Eastern Pacific black ghostshark was recognized as its own new species, according to study co-author Douglas Long, chief curator in natural sciences at the Oakland Museum of California.
The specimens' unique proportions, precisely measured, gave the fish away as a separate species of ghostshark.
The shark-like animal belongs to the mysterious and little-studied chimeras, perhaps the oldest group of fish alive today.
These "living fossils" branched off from sharks about 400 million years ago. They may have survived by adapting to extreme deep-sea environments, according to Long.
"Chimeras display some unusual features not seen in other living animals," Long said.
Male chimeras, for example, have retractable sexual appendages sprouting from their foreheads.
"These organs, which resemble a spiked club at the end of a stalk, may be used to stimulate a female or to pull her closer-though these are still assumptions," Long said.
Long said that the odd fish shows how complex the deep ocean can be-as well as the vast potential for encountering weird new creatures. (ANI)