Like their sharky “counterparts,” they have claspers- expect these are shaped like spoons and are pretty weird looking. Yeah, think of chimera claspers next time you eat with a spoon. Appetizing, no?
To make things even freakier, they have a thumb-shaped clasper on their head, which basically makes it so females can’t move away during copulation. Now look at your thumb, and look back at the screen. Back down at your thumb… chimera clasper.
You will never see things the same way ever again. (This was so important, it became the blog post title)
Primarily because chimaeras (order: Chimaeriformes) are awesome. These cartilaginous fishes are also nicknamed “ratfish,” “rabbit fish,” “elephant fish” or “spook fish.”
And sorry, but we’re not talking about the crappy movie.
We can find these spooky animals in a lot of places, such as off the coast of Canada and even in the the southwestern temperate coasts of south Australia and New Zealand. They can be seen perusing the continental shelves of cooler waters, usually in the deeper waters (around 220 m or 660 ft). It has been noted to migrate to shallow estuaries or bays in the spring to get it on (aka mate, mates).
Unlike many sharks, they have tooth plates instead of individual teeth. The upper jaw plates are sharp, while lower jaw plates are flat and used to crush the prey held in place by the upper jaw. I feel like I should have this sort of tooth arrangement, so I can keep my chocolate chip cookies from escaping.
Another key difference in the dentition of chimeras vs sharks? Their teeth don’t fall out! They continue to grow!
Speaking of growing, they don’t get pretty big (with max reported size being 49 inches or 125 cm) and them lasting to a ripe 15 years. They get tired of your shenanigans reeeeeal quick.
“Get off my continental shelf, you scallywags!”
Now, remember that club-thing on their face? No, it’s not a zit. It actually has a purpose. It’s actually covered in pores, which sense movement and electrical field, allowing for these animals to find prey (i.e. shellfish and molluscs).
They are oviparous, with eggs (two of them, normally) deposited in muddy/sandy shallow waters during the spring. They are golden in color, but eventually turn brown/black before releasing the baby into the big, wide oceanic world. As they mature, they will migrate from the safety of the shallows into the deeper waters.
These sharks are caught along southern Australia and New Zealand (NZ) commercially, often used in “fish and chips” (eek!). They are also highly consumed by theNgai Tahu Maori tribe. In fact, about 80% of NZ catch is that for this tribe! Besides the spine on the dorsal fin, they pose little to no threat to humans. They are listed as “Least Concern,” (LC) by the IUCN. Their fishery seems to be stable (hooray!).
Learn anything new?