"Pocket Shark" by M. Grace/NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC/Mississippi Laboratories / Public Domain

Adorable Shark Fits in Your Hand, Looks Like a Mini Sperm Whale

Jul 22, 2019

By Mindy Weisberger

Tiny, blunt-headed sharks called pocket sharks are so rare that until just a few years ago, only one individual had ever been collected from the southeastern Pacific Ocean. And now, that lonely shark finally has company.

Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) caught a second pocket shark in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists declared it to be a pocket shark in 2015, and after further analysis it was recently described as a new species.

Measuring only 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) in length, the wee male shark was identified as an American pocket shark and given the scientific name Mollisquama mississippiensis, according to a new study.

You might think that adorable pocket sharks are so named because they’re small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket. However, the name comes not from their petite size but from a physical feature: a pocket-like orifice found near their pectoral fins.

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