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An Incredibly Rare Megamouth Shark Just Washed Up In The Philippines

By Kevin Loria

Now this is an interesting-looking — and incredibly rare — creature. With a bulbous head and 50 rows of tiny teeth, what appears to be the 66th megamouth shark ever seen in the world has washed ashore in in Pio Duran, Albay, the Philippines, according to Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines (some say this is only the 60th confirmed sighting).

The megamouth shark is so uncommon that until recently, some still considered it a cryptid, a creature so rare that it couldn’t be confirmed by science. And while the megamouth was first confirmed to exist in 1976 after being accidentally dragged up by a US Navy vessel, it’s still “one of the most rarely seen species of sharks,” marine biologist David Shiffman previously told Business Insider in an email. (Shiffman confirmed to Business Insider that this latest specimen did indeed appear to be a megamouth.)

This one appears to be a 4.6 meter long male, larger than some estimates for the maximum size of the male members of the species.

And despite the many tiny teeth possessed by Megachasma pelagios, a scientific name that means “giant mouth of the deep,” this shark is one of the three that feed on plankton, potentially attracted by its glowing bioluminescent mouth. (The other two plankton feeders are the basking shark and whale shark.) Its strange appearance might look scary, but unless you’re plankton, it’s totally safe.

This one is the 15th of these creatures found in the Philippines, which ties that nation with Japan for the most sightings, though they have been spotted all over the world.

From what we know based on a shark that scientists were able to track off the California coast in 1990, megamouths seem to spend most of the day about 400 or 500 meters below the surface. At night they rise up along with many other creatures, most likely to feed.

Here’s a video of a specimen found in Japan being dissected by scientists:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJcC0EtvMoY&w=480&h=360]

SEE ALSO: This Map Shows All The Mythical Creatures That Haunt The US

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