Featured Species: Lost Shark (Carcharhinus obsolerus)

This week’s featured species is the first new elasmobranch to be described for science in 2019: Lost Shark (Carcharhinus obsolerus). This species was described in a newly published paper based on three specimens collected in 1934 from Borneo, Thailand, and Vietnam in the Western-Central Pacific Ocean (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019).

Fig 1. Lateral view of Carcharhinus obsolerus sp. nov. (NMW 61463; female holotype 433 mm TL). A. Preserved specimen; B. Painting by Lindsay Marshall (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019).


Lost Shark is a relatively small shark, reaching lengths up to 1.4 feet (0.43 m). They have moderately slender bodies with a subcircular trunk and a pear-shaped midsection near their dorsal fin. Their snouts are short and they have large eyes with a nictitating lower eyelid to protect themselves while hunting. They do not have a spiracle and they have a pronounced lower caudal lobe, suggesting an active life style that does not involve long periods of rest on the sea floor (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019).

Fig 2. Head of Carcharhinus obsolerus sp. nov. (NMW 61463; Holotype). 433 mm TL female: A. lateral view; B. ventral view (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019).


In their upper jaw, lost sharks have a slight gradient of tooth morphology. The anterior teeth (those in the front) are narrow with linear crown margins. As the teeth move further back in the jaw, the teeth become more oblique and have more coarsely serrated edges. The lower jaw also shows a tooth morphology gradient, however it is not as prominent as the upper jaw. These teeth are narrow, erect, and have triangular cusps (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019). The morphology of their teeth suggest a diet of bony fishes and invertebrates.

Fig 4. Teeth of Carcharhinus obsolerus sp. nov (ANSP 77121, paratype). 433 mm TL female; 4th anterolateral tooth from left side of jaw: A. upper tooth labial view; B. upper tooth lingual view; C. lower tooth labial view; D. lower tooth lingual view (White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019).


The family Carcharinidae is one of the most economically valuable important shark groups in to global fisheries. In the South Pacific, elasmobranchs have been over fished for decades to meet high demands of the markets. In fact, we haven’t come across this species since they were collected in the South China Sea since 1934. It is a real possibility that the species is already extinct due to the fishing pressures in the region. That is why the research team who studied these specimens named the C. obsolerus for the Latin word “extinct” and gave it the common name of Lost Shark.

Shark Stats

Authority:  White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019

Family: Carcharhinidae; 59+ species

Length: 1.4 feet (0.43 m)

Weight: Undefined

Habitat: Unknown

Depth: Unknown

Reproduction: Ovoviparous

Gestation: Unknown

Litter Range: Unknown

Home Range: Uncertain; collected from South China Sea

Diet: Suspected to be small bony fishes and invertebrates

IUCN Status: Possibly Extinct

(White, Kyne, & Harris, 2019)

Thanks so much for checking out Lost Shark! If you missed last week’s featured species, please be sure to check out the Sharpnose Sevengill Shark! If there is a species of shark you’d love to know more about, leave me a comment or send me a message! I would love to do a feature on your favorite species.

This week the Shark Fins Sales Elimination Act was introduced by Congressman Michael T. McCaul of Texas. This legislation will ban the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. While the act of shark finning is illegal in the US, the trade of the fins is not; thus giving the wrongfully obtained fins import and export value on American soil. Conservation legislation needs public support in order to become law and help protect the environment and wildlife. It is so important that you tell your representatives that you care about environmental and wildlife conservation.  Here is a prompt from Oceana that you can use to send to your reps! Just fill in your name! It only takes a moment to make a change that will last a lifetime.

The new Ocean For Sharks Shop is open! There’s handmade ocean inspired plush animals, canvas paintings, and of course my children’s book, Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark, available in print and PDF. Be sure to stop by. Remember proceeds benefit shark research and conservation with a donation to Project AWARE!

I have more exciting news! My children’s book Winifred the Wondrous Whale Shark is now available on Amazon. Check it out! And don’t forget about the Shark Spot. Proceeds are donated to Project AWARE.

Until next time finactics!


Featured Image Source

Marshall, L. (Artist). (2019). Lost Shark Painting [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0209387

Literature Cited

White, W. T., Kyne, P. M., & Harris, M. (2019). Lost before found: A new species of whaler shark Carcharhinus obsolerus from the Western Central Pacific known only from historic records. PloS one14(1), e0209387.

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Featured Species: Great Torpedo Ray (Tetronarce nobiliana)

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Featured Species: Sharpnose Sevengill Shark (Heptranchias perlo)

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