Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Subclass Elasmobranchii
Superorder Selachimorpha
Order Lamniformes
Family Mitsukirinidae
Genus Scapanorhynchus
1st Species Scapanorhynchus lewisii
2nd Species Scapanorhynchus raphiodon
3rd Species Scapanorhynchus rapax
Other attributes
Time Range 113-66 mya
Location Worldwide
Name Meaning Spade snout
Physical Dimensions 65 centimeters long
Dietary Classification Carnivore

Scapanorhynchus is a goblin shark from the Early-Late Cretaceous of the entire world. It was named in 1889 by Arthur Smith Woodward. It was very similar to the modern goblin shark, to the point where the two are sometimes suggested to be in the same genus; however, whether this is true or not is still up for debate.


As an extinct goblin shark, Scapanorhynchus resembled its modern relative, as it had a slender, flabby body, rounded pectoral (arm) and dorsal (back) fins, a mid-sized head with a long, flat protruding nose and large jaws, and a long, tapering, upwards-facing caudal (tail) fin. However, it had one difference that set it apart from its modern relative; its fins were longer and more pointed than those of the modern goblin shark. Its body would have been covered in scaly skin.


Scapanorhynchus was a predator, preying on ray-finned fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. Similarly to the modern goblin shark, its jaws were likely capable of extending forward to capture prey, while its nail-like teeth were used for holding it in place and tearing it apart.


Similarly to the modern goblin shark, Scapanorhynchus was likely a slow-moving ambush predator that lived near the seafloor. Its long, protruding snout was likely filled with many electroreceptors that would help it detect the movements of nearby aquatic prey; since it likely had poor eyesight, these electroreceptors would have served as its main way to spot prey. Once it detected small animals like fish or cephalopods, it would drift towards them with almost no motions in the water (thanks to its low-density flesh and oily liver giving it neutral buoyancy) before lunging towards them and extending its jaws forward, creating a small vacuum that sucked water particles and prey items into its mouth; it would then clamp its jaws down on its prey, using its nail-like teeth to tear it into smaller, more digestible chunks of flesh. However, Scapanorhynchus' caudal fin had a comparatively much longer upper lobe than that of the modern goblin shark, suggesting that it was likely an even slower swimmer; due to this, its feeding style was likely a way to compensate for its sluggish speed by allowing it to catch faster prey without having to chase it.

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