Walking sharks found near Australia

James Marshall
January 23, 2020

What was interesting to the researchers is that none of the sharks closely related to these newly identified reef-dwellers share their special way of walking.

Scientists have discovered not one but four new species of sharks and these ones use their fins to walk.

The premise of a walking shark might perchance maybe perchance perchance sound like an apocalyptic Sharknado sequel brought to lifestyles, nonetheless at a dimension appropriate scared of three toes, the stumpy runt predators are hardly ever a terror interpret.

Dr. Dudgeon said, "Because the fins of walking shark species are very strong, these fish have the ability to walk in shallow water as well as swimming like a normal fish".

The fascinating "walking sharks" are found in the waters off northern Australia and Indonesia and have evolved to use their four side fins to propel themselves across the seafloor. An analysis of their mitochondrial DNA shows that Hemiscyllium emerged after a group of sharks migrated away from their ancestral population and then became genetically distinct over time after adapting to their new tropical habitats.

The nine known species can be found in the subtropical waters of the Indo-Australian Archipelago, where they each inhabit a small range. The researchers describe the region as one of the "most biodiverse" places on the planet. This was a large land mass that once included what is now Africa, South America, Arabia and India. Scientists also stated the invention is important for working out total species evolution in a device with a pair of of the best tropical marine biodiversity globally.

The creation of new landmasses and the movement of older landmasses may have not have only helped creatures hitch a ride on travelling reefs, but also created barriers that isolated populations.

The results confirmed the new animals' DNA was consistent with existing Hemiscyllium species, which can be traced back to the Late Cretaceous period, extending from roughly 66 to 100 million years ago.

Scientists previously believed the Epaulette Shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) was the primary species of walking shark across the region. They are active at night and do not pose a threat to humans, the researchers are keen to stress.

"At less than a metre long on average, walking sharks present no threat to people but their ability to withstand low oxygen environments and walk on their fins gives them a remarkable edge over their prey of small crustaceans and molluscs", said Christine Dudgeon, a co-author of the paper and a marine biologist at the University of Queensland, in a press release.

Given the enormous time scales involved, and the broad scope of worldwide waters, it can be hard to know exactly how these walking shark species came to be, and why they evolved their separate adaptations.

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