Phylogeny and evolution

Based on its morphology, phylogenetic studies have placed the goblin shark in the order Lamniformes (Shimada 2005). The order is also known as the mackerel sharks and includes some of the familiar species of sharks. The most famous of the Lamniformes that you would have heard of, is the Great white shark.

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Chondrichthyes
Subclass:Elasmobranchii
Superorder:Selachimorpha
Order:Lamniformes
Family:Mitsukurinidae
Genus:Mitsukurina
Species:M. owstoni
Table. 1. Scientific classification of the Goblin shark Mitsukurina owstoni.

Studies carried out using genetic data from the goblin shark have discovered that this fish might be the most basal member of the Lamniformes (e.g. Shimada 2005 & Duffy 1997) which is not a surprise as the family Mitsukurinidae have fossils that date back to the Cretaceous period and perhaps even earlier. As I’ve mentioned on another page, the goblin shark has been described as a “living fossil” due to it retaining some primitive traits that you would have expected to have found millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

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