This species common name is the “pocket shark,” though those in the field of classifying animals refer to it by its scientific name Mollisquama sp., according to a new study published in the international journal of taxonomy Zootaxa. While it is small enough to, yes, fit in your pocket, it’s dubbed “pocket” because of the distinctive orifice above the pectoral fin--one of many physiological features scientists hope to better understand.
Interestingly, the specimen Grace discovered wasn’t found it the ocean, per se; rather in the holdings of NOAA’s lab in Pascagoula. It was collected in the deep sea about 190 miles offshore Louisiana during a 2010 mission by the NOAA Ship Pisces to study sperm whale feeding. Grace, who was part of that mission after the rare shark was collected, and upon uncovering the sample at the lab years later, recruited Tulane University researchers Michael Doosey and Henry Bart, and NOAA Ocean Service genetics expert Gavin Naylor, to give the specimen an up-close examination. Read More