MEGACHASMIDAE MEGAMOUTH SHARKS
Megamouth sharks or Megachasmidae are a family belonging to the order Lamniformes, or common name Mackerel sharks. There is only one sole extant species belonging to this family. Megamouth sharks are rarely seen by humans and is the smallest of the three extant filter-feeding sharks alongside the Whale shark and Basking shark. Since its discovery in 1976 (described in 1983), few Megamouth sharks have been seen, with fewer than 100 specimens being observed or caught. Like the other two planktivorous sharks, it swims with its enormous mouth wide open, filtering water for plankton krill or shrimp and jellyfish. It is distinctive for its large head.
Researchers have predicted the feeding patterns of Megamouth sharks in relation to the other two planktivorous sharks; the three plankivourous sharks have ram feeding in common, as it evolved from ram feeding swimming-type ancestors that developed their filtering mechanism to capture small prey like plankton. The Megamouth shark more than likely used a three-step feeding method combining ram and suction.
The body of the Megamouth shark is dark grey dorsally, and white ventrally. There are light margins to blackish pectoral and pelvic fins. The interior of its gill slits is lined with gill rakers that capture its food. The body has been described as stout, soft and flabby.
The Megamouth shark is more than likely found worldwide in the tropics. There aren’t many records. They are oceanic, coastal and offshore. Visit the species page to discover more about the Megamouth shark.
Extinct (recently proposed):
- alisonae (Priabonian)
- applegatei (Oligocene–Miocene)