Its scientific name is Etmopterus benchleyi, after the shark conservationist and Jaws author Peter Benchley. But its common, and infinitely cooler, name is Ninja Lanternshark. If that sounds like it sprung from the imagination of an 8-year-old, that's because it did.
Young cousins of one of the researchers that recently discovered the tiny shark suggested the name (honed down from Super Ninja Shark) because of its jet-black appearance and "because it's good at being stealthy."
Found off the coast of Central America, the Ninja Lanternshark lurks in the darkest parts of the ocean, at depths of up to 4,734 feet. It has glass-like teeth, emerald eyes, and is so small, it could fit in the palm of your hand. Its stealthy reputation comes from the way it glows in the dark. All lanternsharks glow as a form of camouflage, called counter elimination, that helps diminish its shadow so it's harder to see from above. But researchers found fewer photophores, or dots that emit light, on the ninja, suggesting its glow is more subtle.
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Still, since researchers have only eight specimens, little is know about the Ninja Lanternshark — which is exactly, we imagine, how this covert agent would like it.
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