Scientists have known for a while that male ghost sharks have a retractable sex organ on their heads. Now, science has discovered another weird feature of this species' sex life: Females have a built-in sperm storage bank that allows them to keep sperm for years at a time.
Maybe that’s a useful feature if female ghost sharks never know when their mates will live up to their names and ghost them?
Ghost sharks are certainly hard for scientists to keep track of. Researchers captured the first video footage of ghost sharks only in 2016.
The deep-sea predators have long fins, vacant eyes and veiny, translucent skin that looks cobbled together, like a Frankenstein monster shark.
They’re part of the chimaera family, nearly 40 percent of which has only been discovered in the past 15 years or so.
Without the help of deep-sea Tinder, researchers believe it might be just as hard for ghost sharks to find each other as it for scientists to spot them.
Scarcity of mates could explain the extreme sperm storage, researchers believe.
In captivity, bamboo sharks (not sure what those look like, we assume like a panda?) can hold onto sperm for up to three years. Scientists believe ghost sharks in the wild may make the same move.
When ghost sharks do meet and mate, the male’s forehead sex organ has hooks that it uses to clasp onto the fins of female. They’re also equipped with two additional clasper organs around the pelvis.
Mating "does not seem to be a very pleasant experience for the females,” one of the researchers, Finucci, told National Geographic.
This was one of the first studies to look into the lifecycle of ghost sharks, and scientists expect there’s a lot more to learn. But one lesson seems to be that if you’re ever feeling down about your dating life, these guys definitely have it worse.