Wednesday 20 April 2011

False Catshark

Image via Wikipedia
False Catshark... that's a rather odd name isn't it? Catsharks are named after their long, feline eyes, while the False Catshark is named after it not being a proper catshark even though it also has cat-like eyes. Some Catsharks are also known as dogsharks, but that's something for another time. I'm not ready for that kind of crazy talk just now.

Just to make it absolutely and completely clear, the False Catshark is a kind of shark. It's usually found at depths of around 200 to 1,500 metres (660-4,900 ft) and you can't go far wrong if you call it "flabby". It reaches some 3 metres (10 ft) in length and has a massive liver and soft muscles, fins and skin. All this helps them maintain buoyancy with minimal effort, so it seems that they really don't like to move around too much. I can appreciate that, but I'd prefer if you didn't call me flabby.

Image source
Despite all that, False Catfish are actual hunters who prey on fish of various kinds, although it appears they are not averse to the dead bodies of fish that have drifted down from shallower depths, too. They have been found all over the world but keep to the continental slopes, where food is more plentiful. Their mouth is really quite big, with a massive gape and lots of tiny, little teeth. It's quite strange because they actually look reasonably sleek and not so different from more famous and dangerous sharks. Instead, they are kind of fat and lazy and their teeth are puny. They seem to do well on it, though!

One interesting fact is that the female produces a huge number of eggs, one was found to have 20,000 in one ovary. These are used as food for their developing young as they get older. This nutrition allows them to grow bigger. It seems to work, too - the mother eventually gives birth to 2 pups who are already 1.2 to 1.5 metres (4 to 5 feet) long. They are then well prepared to float about at depth, not doing much. Good times!

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