The African Dwarf shark (Pristiophorus nancyae) - one of four new shark species found in 2011.
National Geographic News
The African dwarf sawshark (Pristiophorus nancyae) was accidentally captured in a 1,600-foot-deep (490-meter-deep) trawl off Mozambique. The animal is only the seventh species of sawshark known to science, according to David Ebert, a research associate at the Academy.
The predator has a long, tooth-studded snout that it uses like a sword, whipping the appendage through schools of fish and then returning to eat any casualties.
Along with the sawshark, a new species of angel shark, Squatina caillieti, was named from a single specimen collected in 1,200-foot-deep (370-meter-deep) water off the Philippine island of Luzon, Ebert said.
Bottom-dwelling angel sharks, whose large pectoral fins resemble wings, lie partially buried in sediment and ambush passing prey.
In addition, two species of lanternshark in the Etmopterus genus were also discovered in Taiwan and South Africa, respectively.
The discoveries are part of a recent boom in new shark and ray finds. Over the past decade, about 200 new species have been described, compared with fewer than 200 in the previous three decades, Ebert said.
Despite these advances in describing new sharks, scientists know very little about the predators’ behaviors or their populations, he added.