Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Scientists discover tiny ‘pocket shark’ that glows in the dark

It's only the second pocket shark specimen ever discovered.

MARK DOOSEY
  • The pocket shark is an extremely rare deepwater fish about which little is known.
  • This new specimen, first discovered in 2010, measures just 5.5 inches long and has pocket glands thought to emit a bioluminescent fluid.
  • The finding "underscores how little we know about the Gulf [of Mexico]," wrote one researcher involved with the recent study.


Scientists have identified a new species of tiny shark that secretes a glow-in-the-dark liquid.

The 5.5-inch specimen — dubbed the American Pocket Shark, or Mollisquama mississippiensis — was first discovered in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico during a NOAA mission to study sperm whale feeding. In a recent study, researchers identified its species by using a dissecting microscope and studying radiographic (x-ray) images and high resolution CT scans.

The findings are published in a paper in the animal taxonomy journal Zootaxa.

"In the history of fisheries science, only two pocket sharks have ever been captured or reported," Mark Grace of the NMFS Mississippi Laboratories of NOAA said in a press release. "Both are separate species, each from separate oceans. Both are exceedingly rare."

The first pocket shark was discovered in 1979 in the East Pacific Ocean, but the new study confirmed that the shark found in 2010 was a separate species. Although "pocket" can refer to these sharks' small size, the term actually describes two pocket glands that scientists believe can produce a bioluminescent fluid that helps attract prey.

Still, little is known about these deepwater fish.

Henry Bart, director of the Tulane Biodiversity Research Institute, added: "The 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 — especially its deeper waters — and how many additional new species from these waters await discovery."

​How many undiscovered species probably exist in the ocean?

Not only is it hard to answer this question, but it's even hard to tell exactly how many marine species have already been discovered. Finding that number would require sifting through thousands of scientific papers and reports, and cataloguing the results in one central database – like the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), which currently contains more than 240,000 marine species.

As for estimating the number of undiscovered species, scientists generally take one of two approaches, as described by Andy Solow, director of the Marine Policy Center and a Senior Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

"One approach is based on the species-area curve, which summarizes how the number of species in a region increases with the area of the region," Solow wrote for Smithsonian Ocean. "By seeing how species accumulate as the area covered by taxonomic surveys increases, biologists can make estimates about how many species are in a region with an area as large as the ocean. A big problem with this approach is that the total area covered by taxonomic surveys is a miniscule part of the ocean, and thus different prediction methods can give vastly different answers.

"Another popular approach uses the way in which species discoveries accumulate with time to estimate future discoveries. For some groups, like marine mammals, the discovery rate has fallen off rapidly and perhaps not that many more species remain undiscovered. However, for other groups, such as invertebrates, the discovery rate has actually increased steadily over time, so an estimate based on this ever-increasing rate is essentially infinite. But this method has a more fundamental problem: the discovery record on which this approach is based is the product of human activity, not some natural process."

The “new normal” paradox: What COVID-19 has revealed about higher education

Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?

Photo: Luis Robayo/AFP via Getty Images
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
  • It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
  • COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
Keep reading Show less

Masturbation boosts your immune system, helping you fight off infection and illness

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
Keep reading Show less

The biology of aliens: How much do we know?

Hollywood has created an idea of aliens that doesn't match the science.

The biology of aliens: How much do we know? | Michio Kaku, ...
Videos
  • Ask someone what they think aliens look like and you'll probably get a description heavily informed by films and pop culture. The existence of life beyond our planet has yet to be confirmed, but there are clues as to the biology of extraterrestrials in science.
  • "Don't give them claws," says biologist E.O. Wilson. "Claws are for carnivores and you've got to be an omnivore to be an E.T. There just isn't enough energy available in the next trophic level down to maintain big populations and stable populations that can evolve civilization."
  • In this compilation, Wilson, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan B. Losos explain why aliens don't look like us and why Hollywood depictions are mostly inaccurate.
Keep reading Show less

Live on Tuesday | Personal finance in the COVID-19 era

Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast