Cyclops Shark Found

A Gulf of California fisherman brings home a baby dusky shark with only one eye.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Oct 19, 2011

A dusky shark fetus with only one eyeCOURTESY OF MARCELA BEJARANO

It’s a shark with one eye—what could be weirder? It’s not an ancient one-eyed species, however, but an animal suffering from a rare congenital condition known as cyclopia, which has been documented in a variety of species, including humans. Measuring in at 56 centimeters (22 inches) in length, the organism is actually a fetus, extracted from the womb of a pregnant dusky shark, caught by fisherman Enrique Lucero León near Cerralvo Island in the Gulf of California. Also inside the mother shark were nine normal siblings.

Upon hearing about the discovery on Facebook, biologist Felipe Galván-Magaña of the Interdisciplinary Center of Marine Sciences in Mexico and his colleagues asked León for permission to examine the specimen and confirmed its diagnosis as cyclopia. A handful of other cylcops sharks have been documented, shark biologist Jim Gelsleichter of the University...

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