Biologists have gone to great lengths to describe the long-nosed chimaera, whose kind can reach five feet in length. Its stiletto-like nose reminded one of “the nose contour of a supersonic jet aircraft.” Others have dubbed it “rat-tail,” for obvious reasons. In South Africa, it is known as the “ghost shark,” though it is only distantly related to sharks. A touch of the venomous spine on the first dorsal fin can kill a person.
Chimeras are primitive fishes and are closely related to sharks. Chimeras have scaleless skin, and eggs that are encapsulated in horny packages. The long snout is a sensory organ, and as such is well-endowed with both chemical and electrical sensors. It is believed that these senses are used to detect prey and/or mates. When the latter resource is acquired, male long-nose chimeras hold onto their prize with claspers on their heads, which grasp the female’s pectoral fin during mating.