But in the deep seas around the world swims a true goblin king with no interest in righteous hairstyles: the mysterious goblin shark, whose spring-loaded jaws are surely the animal kingdom’s most incredible chompers. Freaky freaky, as Bowie might say.
First described in 1898, the goblin shark had already been known to Japanese fishermen, who called ittengu-zame, tengu being a mythical goblin with an extremely long nose that looked a bit like Pinocchio, except like Jareth it kidnapped children instead of teaching them not to lie. The shark, which grows up to 12.5 feet long, swims at depths of over 4,000 feet and remains poorly understood, though with each new specimen we’re building a better picture of its incredible adaptations to the deep-sea lifestyle.
Most dramatic, of course, are its highly protrusive jaws packed with needle-like teeth meant to trap, not slice. Sharks are able to project their mouths in this manner because the jaw is suspended by ligaments and cartilage instead of being fused to the skull. And the goblin shark takes this to the extreme with a jaw that pretty much looks like it’s trying to escape from the animal’s face.