The ghost shark is creepy as hell. It floats around the darkest part of the ocean looking like a fallen angel that just clawed its way out of hell. It’s not entirely a shark. It’s more like a shark’s earlier, eerier relative.

What you’re seeing is a chimaera, but it goes by many names. Sometimes it’s known as an elephant fish, a rat fish, and a rabbitfish. Whatever it’s called, it’s not entirely what we think of as a shark. It has a cartilaginous frame, instead of a skeleton made of bone, and it has claspers, the divided sexual organ of the male shark. It even has the little divots along the nose that let it sense electromagnetic disturbances in the water. What it doesn’t have are denticles—the little hook-like scales that make a shark’s skin smooth one way, but rough enough to draw blood the other way.


They also don’t have the teeth of a shark. These are, for the most part, bottom-feeders. They crush the little shell-covered creatures that they pick up. What they lack in danger, they make up for in presence. They’re in the same family as sharks and rays, so they have the graceful sweep of their fins, combined with a sense of menace, and as we can see from the film, no sense of fear.

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