Boop! Goblin Sharks Have a Huge Snoot and Extendable Jaws

The goblin shark is one of the strangest animals in the deep ocean, and that’s really saying something. In a dark world of wild wonders, the goblin shark’s long nose really stands out. Unlike what people typically think of as a shark silhouette, its snout extends well beyond its jaws. That is, until the goblin shark snaps up prey. It can extend its jaws forward to grab prey like deep sea fish and squid. The video below from National Geographic shows slow-motion video of goblin sharks gobbling food in this very alien way.

There’s limited information about goblin sharks because they live in the deep sea and don’t interact much with humans. Only recently have scientists managed to filmed them eating and learn more about their behavior. Most of the sightings are sharks 10 to 13 feet long, though they can likely grow to be more than 20 feet. Goblin sharks are referred to as living fossils, with similar species dating as far back as 125 million years. Many other interesting sharks lived during that time, though many lines have since died out and are known only from fossils. 

A goblin shark with a long flat nose
National Geographic

So what is that giant beak used for? Shark snouts in general have sensors on them, and the goblin shark’s sizeable one is no exception. It helps them sense even weak electric fields of the world around them. Goblin sharks, which we learned about on Boing Boing, aren’t the only strange-looking deep sea shark. But they do have the most remarkable schnozz of any we’ve seen.

A goblin shark extending its jaw to catch a fish
National Geographic

Some other remarkable facts we’ve learned about sharks recently include that Greenland sharks live to be more than 500 years old and there’s a glow in the dark shark in New Zealand. Whether or not you have  a favorite shark, there’s no denying the goblin shark’s snoot is the most boop-able.  

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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