A rare goblin shark specimen was recently delivered to the Australian Museum

By Drew Mackie
March 03, 2015 10:30 PM

”It’s pretty impressive. It’s not hideous; it’s beautiful.”

That’s Mark McGrouther, fish collection manager for the Australian Museum, describing a curious new arrival – a goblin fish. The species’ bizarre looks have given it such nicknames as “alien of the deep” and “living fossil,” but McGrouther’s quote, which originally appeared in this Agence France-Presse article, speaks to how most people would greet this creature: “Eek!”

Perhaps the goblin shark’s most notable feature is its set of nail-like chompers. The animal’s jaw – and with it, those teeth – can protrude nearly to the end of that long snout (see above), and scientists expect that this allows it to snap onto prey as it passes by.

“I suspect because it has got soft, flabby musculature, it doesn’t need much energy … so it will swim slowly over the bottom just using its snout like a metal detector,” McGrouther was quoted as saying. “It will spear it with those sharp pointed teeth and then just wolf it down whole.”

Because it generally lives in water 800 feet to 3,000 feet deep, the goblin shark has little contact with humans. The delivery of this specimen allows scientists to study the rare species further – even if the catch died en route to a local aquarium.