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Temporal range: 146–0 Ma
Early Cretaceous to Present
Mistukurina owstoni museum victoria.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Mitsukurinidae
D. S. Jordan, 1898
  • Scapanorhynchidae

Mitsukurinidae is a family of sharks with one living genus, Mitsukurina, and five fossil genera: Anomotodon, Protoscapanorhynchus, Pseudoscapanorhynchus and Scapanorhynchus, and Woellsteinia,[1] though some taxonomists consider Scapanorhynchus to be a synonym of Mitsukurina.[2][3] The only known living species is the goblin shark, Mitsukurina owstoni.

This family of sharks is named in honour of Kakichi Mitsukuri who bought the holotype of the only species in this family to David Starr Jordon to be scientifically described.[4]

The most distinctive characteristic of the goblin sharks is the long, trowel-shaped, beak-like snout, much longer than those of other sharks. The snout contains sensory organs to detect the electrical signals given off by the shark's prey.[5] They also possess long, protrusible jaws.[6] When the jaws are retracted, the shark resembles a grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus, with an unusually long nose. Its nose resembles the nose of a goblin, which is how it received its name. These sharks have only been seen about 50 times since their discovery in 1897.


  1. ^ Mikko's Phylogeny Archive
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2010). "List of Nominal Species of Mitsukurinidae (Goblin shark)". FishBase. Retrieved 2010-08-24.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Scapanorhynchus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  4. ^ Jordan, David Starr (1898). "Description of a species of fish (Mitsukurina owstoni) from Japan, the type of a distinct family of Lamnoid Sharks". Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. Series 3. 1: 199–201 – via Biodiversity Heritage Library.
  5. ^ Stevens, J. & Last, P.R. (1998). Paxton, J.R. & Eschmeyer, W.N. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Fishes. San Diego: Academic Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-12-547665-5.
  6. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2005). "Mitsukurina owstoni" in FishBase. 10 2005 version.