Goblin sharks, ghost crabs and vampire bats, oh my!


Portrait of a goblin shark. Image through Wikimedia Commons.

To get you within the Halloween spirit for the creepy, ghoulish and grotesque, we current to you animals which have spooky-sounding names: goblin sharks, ghost crabs and vampire bats. Learn how these creatures received their spine-chilling names.

Goblin sharks

Goblin sharks are a uncommon and strange wanting species that lives within the deep sea. They have lengthy flattened snouts, protrusible jaws and sharp, slim enamel. Their snouts are coated with quite a few jelly-filled pores that act as electroreceptors to assist them detect prey in the dead of night depths of the ocean. When a fish, squid or crustacean — favourite prey gadgets of the goblin shark — swims too shut, the shark’s jaw snaps outward at a lightning-fast pace to seize the unsuspecting animal. Not to fret, goblin sharks don’t pose any risk to people due to the depths at which they dwell.

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Goblin sharks additionally look uncommon as a result of they’re pink in shade, which is attributable to blood vessels that lie near the floor of their pores and skin.

Goblin sharks develop to a median dimension of 10 to 13 ft (3 to 4 meters), however bigger people have been discovered, together with a 18 to twenty ft (5 to six meter) lengthy feminine that was found within the Gulf of Mexico in 2000. They inhabit all the world’s main oceans.

The identify goblin shark comes from a translation of its Japanese identify, tenguzame. In Japanese mythology, tengu are beings which have lengthy noses and pink faces.

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Ghost crabs

Creamy-colored crab that matches the sand it stands on.
A ghost crab. Image through Daniel D’Auria/ Flickr.

Ghost crabs are widespread crabs that dwell on the sandy shores of tropical and subtropical seashores. They are most energetic at night time and have large eyes positioned on the information of stalks, which permits them 360-degree view. Another attribute of ghost crabs is that one in all their claws is bigger than the opposite, though this function is just not as pronounced as it’s of their shut relative, the fiddler crab.

Ghost crabs dig deep burrows within the sand. This helps them keep away from predators and keep cool in the summertime and heat within the winter. They periodically emerge from their burrows to feed and moist their gills in seawater. They additionally enter the ocean now and again to launch eggs.

According to the Encyclopedia of Life, the identify ghost crab comes from the crab’s pale shade and nocturnal conduct. Their scientific identify Ocypode means swift-foot in reference to the quick pace at which they’ll sprint round on the seaside. Typically, these crabs transfer round on 4 pairs of strolling legs, however at excessive speeds they run utilizing solely the primary and second pairs.

Vampire bats

A vampire bat facing the camera and clinging to rock.
A vampire bat. Image through Wikimedia Commons.

Of course, a Halloween science weblog about spooky-sounding animal names wouldn’t be full with out mentioning the vampire bat.

Vampire bats vary from Central to South America. They feed on the blood of livestock and different forest animals, therefore their identify. These bats have a brief muzzle and razor-sharp enamel, which they use to make a small incision in sleeping prey. They then lap up the blood that flows out of the wound. Their saliva accommodates particular anticoagulants that stop the blood from clotting. While creepy, the lack of blood doesn’t often hurt the prey.

Vampire bats dwell in massive colonies in darkish locations comparable to caves or hole timber. These bats kind sturdy social bonds. If one bat is ravenous, different bats will typically regurgitate their blood meal to assist feed the hungry bat.

Bottom line: Learn extra about some spooky-sounding animals and the way they received their names.

(Hat tip to Maureen Conners for suggesting that I write about this enjoyable subject.)

Read extra tales about Halloween and science:

Nature’s remarkable camouflage costumes

Halloween derived from ancient Celtic cross-quarter day

Lifeform of the week: Vampires are real

Find the Ghoul Star of Perseus

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