Temporal range: 146–0 Ma

Early Cretaceous to Present

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Superorder: Selachimorpha
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Mitsukurinidae
D. S. Jordan, 1898
  • Scapanorhynchidae

Mitsukurinidae is a family of sharks with one living genus, Mitsukurina, and five fossil genera: Anomotodon, Protoscapanorhynchus, Pseudoscapanorhynchus and Scapanorhynchus, and Woellsteinia,[1] though some taxonomists consider Scapanorhynchus to be a synonym of Mitsukurina.[2][3] The only known living species is the goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni.

The most distinctive characteristic of the goblin sharks is the long, trowel-shaped, beak-like snout, much longer than those of other sharks. The snout contains sensory organs to detect the electrical signals given off by the shark's prey.[4] They also possess long, protrusible jaws.[5] When the jaws are retracted, the shark resembles a grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus, with an unusually long nose. Its nose resembles the nose of a goblin which is how it was given its name of the goblin shark. These sharks have only been seen about 50 times since their discovery in 1897. They are also known as the vampire sharks or ghost sharks because of their pale color and their dislike for sunlight which makes them deep-sea dwellers. This results in very few sightings of them.


  1. Mikko's Phylogeny Archive
  2. Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2010). "List of Nominal Species of Mitsukurinidae (Goblin shark)". FishBase. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  3. "Scapanorhynchus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  4. Stevens, J. & Last, P.R. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N., eds. Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  5. Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Mitsukurina owstoni" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.
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