Dwarf Lanternshark

The dwarf lanternshark is the tiniest species of shark found throughout the world. A member of the dogshark family, it inhabits a limited range and lives deep underwater. It can generate its own light to cope with this, similar to other deep sea creatures.

Dwarf Lanternshark Scientific Classification

Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Chondrichthyes
Order Squaliformes
Family Etmopteridae
Genus Etmopterus
Scientific Name E. perryi


These sharks only reach lengths of 6-8 inches, making them the smallest sharks in the entire world. The largest specimen recorded was about 8.3 inches. Its head consists of a fourth or fifth of the whole body of the shark. The eyes and nares are large. Inside the mouth are 25–32 tooth rows in the upper jaw and 30–34 in the lower one. Sexual dimorphism exists in the teeth in the upper row, with a single cusp flanked by two pairs of smaller cusplets. In contrast, females have only one lateral cusplet pair surrounding each main cusp. There are also small papillae and five gill slits.

On the short trunk, there are several fins, with the second dorsal fin being the largest. The skin is covered with dermal denticles. They are dark brown in color, with the ventral region having black spots and a black line along their backs.

Where do they live

Map Of The Dwarf Lanternshark’s Habitat

Dwarf Lanternshark Habitat Map

Dwarf lanternsharks live in the Caribbean Sea, off the coasts of Colombia, including Barranquilla, Guajira Peninsula, and Santa Marta, Grenada, and the Los Testigos Islands in Venezuela. They have been spotted at 928–1,440 ft depths on the upper continental shelf.



As a deep sea species, their diet primarily consists of krill, shrimp, and small fish. They most likely use their bioluminescence to draw prey towards them.


They show aplacental viviparity, where a yolk sac sustains the undeveloped young until they are born. A litter has 2-3 pups around 2.2–2.4 inches long each. Juvenile males mature at 6.3–6.9 inches and females around 6.1 inches.


Several black ventral markings are light-producing photophores, and others are pigment-containing chromatophores. These help the sharks camouflage themselves against predators and attract prey towards themselves.

Interactions with humans

This shark has almost no interactions with humans, except getting caught as occasional bycatch. Hence the IUCN has classified this shark as “Least Concern” or “LC”.

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