Unveiling the depths: the discovery of Chimaera Supapae

This new species with huge eyes is a type of "ghost shark", or chimera, which is one of the oldest lineages of fish in existence

A new shark species has emerged from the depths of the ocean, captivating and unsettling in equal measure. Dubbed Chimaera supapae, this species, belonging to the family of chimeras or ghost sharks, adds a new chapter to our understanding of marine life. Characterized by its enormous eyes that glow in the dark and a massive head, Chimaera supapae seems to be straight out of a horror movie. Its feather-like fins and elongated body set it apart from other marine creatures, marking it as a truly unique specimen.

This ghost shark was uncovered during a deep-sea survey in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Thailand, in 2018. The immature male, measuring just 1.6 feet (50 cm), was found at a depth of approximately 250 yards (762 meters).

The discovery of Chimaera supapae was a startling surprise for scientists, who identified this new species thanks to its unique morphology and characteristic giant eyes. Chimeras, commonly known as ghost sharks or rabbit fish, are among the most ancient lineages of fish, dating back around 300-400 million years. These elusive creatures, inhabitants of the ocean depths, seldom surface and are descendants of ancient fish races.

They are considered living fossils, having retained many primitive characteristics similar to those of ancient fish species. Their bodies are typically covered in rough, tooth-like scales called dermal denticles, and many species possess a long, whip-like tail. Their diet primarily consists of a variety of prey, including fish, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Prior to this discovery, only 53 species of chimeras were known, and with this addition, the count now stands at 54, as stated by David Ebert, the lead author of the study and director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at San Jose State University in California.

The uncovering of Chimaera supapae serves as a reminder of how much of the marine environment remains unknown and highlights the importance of continuing to explore and protect these precious ecosystems. However, these creatures face threats from various human activities, including habitat degradation, overfishing, and bycatch.

Four species of chimeras are listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List, while another four are considered “near threatened.” It is crucial to implement conservation measures to protect these extraordinary creatures and ensure the survival of the planet’s oldest marine species.

Source: Raffles Bulletin of Zoology

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