Ocean News

Lantern Sharks – new species described

21st July 2009

Dr Leonard Compagno originally described, classified and named lantern sharks after lantern fish. The two scientists are discovering that there are more lantern sharks (genus Etmopterus gracilispinis) than previously thought. These lights, which are dotted all over the body, are little muti-cellular organs which produce luminescence by means of a chemical reaction. When examined under a microscope they look like eyes. These lights help them organize their lives in near darkness and are used for hunting and their social system – to identify each other as they are social animals and live in schools. Dr Compagno and Dr Ebert have spent three weeks recently working on new shark species in Southern Africa in preparation for their co-authored books, one on sharks, rays and chimaeras and the other, a compilation of papers on sharks which will eventually form part of a series of books.