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M. pacifica was described in 1998 by Michael Vecchione and Richard E. Young based on three specimens. The holotype is a juvenile specimen of 51 mm mantle length (ML), taken off the Californian coast at a depth of 0–200 m in a Bongo plankton net. The paratype (USNM 885787), a juvenile specimen of 49 mm ML, was found in the stomach of a lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox). It had initially dried out and was later reconstituted. The third individual, a 19.1 mm ML paralarva, was taken off Hawaii at a depth of 0–300 m in a 4 m2 plankton net.
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