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American pocket shark that glows in the dark confirmed as new species

A 5.5-inch long rare pocket shark found in the Gulf of Mexico has turned out to be a new species and one that squirts little glowing clouds into the ocean.
Photo: Mark Grace/National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center via AP

Researchers have uncovered a tiny new species of pocket shark in the Gulf of Mexico that glows in the dark, a Tulane University study reveals.

Details: The 5.5-inch creature has been named the American pocket shark, or Mollisquama mississippiensis. It secretes a glowing fluid from a tiny pocket gland near its front fins, the study says.

QuoteThe fact that only one pocket shark has ever been reported from the Gulf of Mexico, and that it is a new species, underscores how little we know about the Gulf."
Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, statement

The big picture: Scientists collected the male kitefin shark in 2010, the university said in a statement this week. The luminous specimen stood out among others when a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher observed it in 2013, and the new species was later confirmed.

  • It is only the 3rd known shark species out of more than 500 that may squirt luminous liquid, R. Dean Grubbs, a Florida State University scientist who was not involved in the research, told AP.