Hairy, poisonous, slimey, or scaley – How real “monsters” have a positive impact on our ecosystem.

GOBLIN SHARK


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Mitsukurina Owstoni
CLASSIFICATION: Cartilaginous Fishes
DIET: Carnivore
SIZE: 12 feet long and weigh up to 460 pounds
AVERAGE LIFESPAN: Up to 35 years
With an intimidating appearance and ability to completely unhinge its jaw, the goblin shark is a one of a kind “monster.” Their jaws are connected to 3 inch long flaps of skin that extend from its snout when hunting for prey. Typically, the goblin shark lives at the bottom of the ocean and has been spotted mostly off the coast of Japan, named for their likeness to mythical goblins in Japanese folklore. The goblin shark is an active predator but poses no danger to humans, as it feeds mostly on fish, mollusks, and crab. Without sharks the marine ecosystem would lose its balance, as they are a prime source in eliminating over populated ocean life.

MOSQUITO


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Culicidae
CLASSIFICATION: Invertebrate
DIET: Carnivore
SIZE: 0.125 to 0.75 inches
AVERAGE LIFESPAN: 2 weeks to 6 months
These pesky blood-sucking insects are commonly feared and hated by all, but can they help the ecosystem? There are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes and only three types that primarily spread human disease; the Anopheles, Culex, and Aedes mosquitoes. Did you know that humans are not the first choice for mosquitoes looking for a meal? Most of them typically prefer horses, cattle, and birds. Mosquitoes are beneficial to our ecosystem, as they are a reliable source of food for thousands of animals such as birds, fish, frogs, and turtles.

KING VULTURE

Portrait of an American king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa)

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Sarcoramphus papa
CLASSIFICATION: Bid
DIET: Carrion
SIZE: Body: 27 to 32 inches; wingspan: 4 to 5.5 inches
AVERAGE LIFESPAN: Up to 30 years
These birds will glide on air currents to conserve their energy while searching for corpses of dead animals. They are the world’s largest scavengers due to their powerful hooked beaks and large bodies. King vultures have a colorful look that distinguishes them from other vulture species. Without them, carcasses would remain, insect populations would soar, and diseases would spread.

Learn more about the science behind not so scary “monsters” at Science Spooktacular from October 24th-27th.