At no more than two feet long, this diminutive terror nevertheless packs a set of teeth that are bigger than any other shark relative to body size, according to George Burgess, an ichthyologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It’s a glow-in-the-dark evolutionary marvel of the open ocean that takes on beasts hundreds of times its size, including submarines. And it almost always wins.
The cookiecutter shark doesn’t set out to kill its prey. Instead, it makes sneak attacks, using its fleshy lips to suction like a Nerf dart onto a whale or tuna or pretty much any other large critter. Its saw-like teeth easily tear through flesh as it “rotates its body in a 360-degree fashion around and around and around like a drill,” said Burgess. “And as it’s digging in, it gradually closes its jaw little by little, thereby making the crater wound as opposed to just a cylinder.”