Newly classified glowing shark with strong olfactory senses

Lailas lanternshark (Etmopterus lailae) is a shark belonging to the family Etmopteridae. It was named after Laila Mostello-Wetherbee, shark enthusiast and daughter of coauthor Brad Wetherbee. Laila’s lanternshark is a newly discovered shark (17 years ago), only recently classified and recognized in 2017 by Ebert, Papastamatiou, Kajiura & Wetherbee. It is a miniature shark, that is also capable of bioluminescence. Laila’s lanternshark appears similar to, but differs from the Blackbelly Lanternshark or Lucifer SharkEtmopterus lucifer and the Sculpted LanternsharkEtmopterus sculptus. In several different ways. You can read more about Laila’s lanternshark in our PSD Glow in the Dark Sharks article right here.


Family: Etmopteridae – Lantern Sharks

Genus: Etmopterus 

Species: lailae


Phylum– Chordata

Class– Chondrichthyles



Common NameDogfish Sharks

Family– Etmopteridae

Common NameLantern Sharks




Average Size and Length: The maximum recorded length from a is 36.8 cm/ 1.2 feet314.

Teeth and Jaw: E. lailae differs from E. lucifer and E. sculptus by having a lower number of teeth on the lower jaw 26-28 (vs./ 30-43).

Head: Laila’s lanternshark has an exceptionally large nose.

Denticles: The dermal denticles are linear. E. lailae differs from E. lucifer and E. sculptus by lacking dermal denticles between the nostrils on the ventral snout surface and on the dorsal fins (vs. denticles present on the snout and dorsal fins).

Demographic, Distribution, Habitat, Environment and Range: Laila’s lanternshark has been found in the eastern central Pacific in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands in Koko and South Kanmu seamounts. They are more than likely found in salt to brackish tropical waters in the pelagic-neritic none with a depth range of between 1,030-1,260 feet.

Aesthetic Identification: Laila’s lanternshark has a slender body. It is distinguished from E. lucifer having the length of its anterior flank marking branch being much longer relative to its posterior branch (vs. all other members of this genus, except for two species, having the posterior branch equal or longer than the anterior branch. E. lailae differs from the two species (E. lucifer and E. sculptus) with an anterior branch relatively longer than the posterior branch.

Biology and Reproduction: E. lailae differs from E. lucifer and E. sculptus by having a higher spiral valve count 14-16 (vs.8-9); a slightly lower precaudal vertebral count, 53-57 (vs. 55-64).

Most of its biology is unknown, but reproduction is presumably ovoviviparous.

Behavioral Traits, Sensing and Intelligence: Laila’s lanternshark has evolved to adapt and function to its highest potential in a deep-sea environment. Little light is able to penetrate the deep sea, and so it relies less on sight to find food and more on the large olfactory system housed in its unusually large snout.

Laila’s Lanternshark Future and Conservation: Not evaluated.

Laila’s Lanternshark Recorded Attacks on Humans: Not a threat to humans.