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Dwarf Lantern Shark
The dwarf lantern shark is a member of the dogfish family and is the smallest shark in the world. Its head is long and flat, comprising of between 20-25% of its total body length and is accompanied by large oval shaped eyes (they are 2x bigger in width than in length)! The maximum length recorded for a Dwarf Lantern Shark is 21.2 cm, where the females usually grow bigger than the males. Their jaw can comprise of up to 57 teeth, with a maximum of 23 in the lower and 34 in the upper jaw. The species are dark brown in coloration, with black patterns present on the flanks and ventral side, with a spot of black present on the caudal fin and no anal fin accompanied by needle-like dermal denticles. As with other lantern sharks, the dark coloration of the ventral is a species-specific pattern of photophores. The photophores emit light to help disguise them against predators when they are feeding high in the water column, this is referred to as counter lumination! However, the light-emitting characteristics of the taxa has also been linked to prey attraction and social behavior.
As a result of only being discovered in 1964, the shark has currently only been found in a small range of the Caribbean Sea, off the Columbian and Venezuela coasts. It is thought the species reside in the upper continental shelf, between 250-440 m.
Like the whale shark, the Dwarf Lantern Shark eats krill! Amongst other organisms such as zooplankton, crustaceans, shrimp and small fish.
Due to the limited observations of the species, they are currently listed as “Data Deficient” under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Similar to above, as a result of a lack of knowledge and infrequent encounters to date there are no known threats. Due to their size, they are not a target species for commercial fisheries.