Higher classification Lamniformes
Scientific name Mitsukurinidae
|Lower classifications Goblin shark, Scapanorhynchus|
Mitsukurinidae is a family of sharks with one living genus, Mitsukurina, and five fossil genera: Anomotodon, Protoscapanorhynchus, Pseudoscapanorhynchus and Scapanorhynchus, and Woellsteinia, though some taxonomists consider Scapanorhynchus to be a synonym of Mitsukurina. The only known living species is the goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni.
The most distinctive characteristic of the goblin sharks is the long, trowel-shaped, beak-like snout, much longer than those of other sharks. The snout contains sensory organs to detect the electrical signals given off by the shark's prey. They also possess long, protrusible jaws. When the jaws are retracted, the shark resembles a grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus, with an unusually long nose. Its nose resembles the nose of a goblin, which is how it received its name. These sharks have only been seen about 50 times since their discovery in 1897. They are also known as the vampire sharks or ghost sharks because of their pale color and their dislike for sunlight which makes them deep-sea dwellers. This results in very few sightings of them.