The earth’s oceans are vast and full of undiscovered creatures. Even the five percent of the ocean that humans have been able to explore so far sometimes return bizarre discoveries, such as this fish with human lips.
Recently, a fisherman was bamboozled when he caught a baby shark that resembles an eerily human-like face. On February 21, Abdullah Nuren, 48, and his brother reportedly caught a pregnant female shark in their trawler net while fishing in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara province.
Later, when they sliced it open, they chanced upon three pups inside it. Nuren told local media that two of the baby sharks looked similar to their mother, while the third had facial features that made it look like quite the derp-faced human.
“Two were like the mother and this one looked like it had a human face,” he told local outlet VIVA.
Smaller than a human hand, the dead baby shark’s face appears to have two large round eyes, and an expressive face. Nuren said he took the unborn shark home to his family, who helped him preserve it as a good luck charm. The neighbours, who have been thronging to Nuren’s house to take a look at the creature, have offered to buy it off him, but he’s refused.
Dr David Shiffman, a marine conservation biologist and postdoctoral researcher at Arizona State University, said it wasn’t cause for much rejoicing though, since it’s more likely the shark’s features were caused by a congenital defect than it being a new species.
“This is not a thing I study, but some experts I follow are reporting it may be a case of partial Cyclopia (do not Google this while eating) with one fused orbit but still two eyes,” Shiffman wrote on Twitter.
Cyclopia is a rare birth condition that occurs when the front portion of the brain does not properly split into right and left hemispheres.
However, some have raised questions on the credibility of Nuren’s claims. Taylor Chapple, assistant professor of the Oregon State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, told Snopes it couldn’t be said with certainty if it was in fact a malformation.
“Just like any living thing, sharks can have malformations and mutations in their genetic code that are presented during development,” said Chapple. “Obviously in the wild most of these are not viable, which I’m guessing would have been the case with this animal, so we never see them unless they are caught in utero.”
At the same time, Luiz Rocha, curator of fishes at the California Academy of Sciences, confirmed that it is possible for a shark to exhibit such deformities.
“Scientists have been aware of these conditions for quite some time, what is different now is that photos that show it clearly are becoming viral because of the reach of social media. Not something all that rare though,” Rocha told Snopes.
But regardless of what caused it, people on Twitter have been drawing resemblances between the shark’s face and popular figures, including the Michelin Man and even Brazil’s Covid vaccine mascot.
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