FEB 19, 2018 5:09 PM PST

New Atlantic Shark Species Uncovered Thanks to Genetics

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Recent genetic research concerning sixgill sharks from both Atlantic and Indo-Pacific waters has revealed that the two populations differ enough from one another to be considered separate species. The study, published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, confirms countless years of previously-unconfirmed speculation.

A sixgill shark pictured in the Gulf of Mexico.

Image Credit: NOAA

"We showed that the sixgills in the Atlantic are actually very different from the ones in the Indian and Pacific Oceans on a molecular level, to the point where it is obvious that they're a different species even though they look very similar to the naked eye," explained study lead author Toby Daly-Engel from the Florida Institute of Technology.

Related: Scientists don't come across dual-headed sharks like this one every day

The name for sixgill sharks from the Indian and Pacific oceans hasn’t changed, but scientists now refer to the Atlantic-based counterparts as… you guessed it… the Atlantic sixgill shark (Hexanchus vitulus).

While the two sharks may look similar at first glance, reading between the lines paints an entirely different picture. Unfortunately, the sharks tend to be somewhat deep-divers, making it challenging to study them thoroughly.

The most significant visual difference between the two is size – Atlantic varieties only grow up to six feet long, while Indo-Pacific varieties can grow beyond 15 feet long. That aside, both varieties sport six gills (hence the name), while most other shark species only have five.

"Because we now know there are two unique species, we have a sense of the overall variation in populations of sixgills. We understand that if we overfish one of them, they will not replenish from elsewhere in the world," Daly-Engel continued.

Related: Florida man charged with punching a hammerhead shark to death

The researchers note how the findings could potentially help us implement more effective conservation systems that focus on each shark species’ needs independently, rather than collectively. That said, this should make it much easier to protect both from common dangers, like overfishing.

New species are being found every day thanks to genetic research, so it should be interesting to see what scientists come up with next.

Source: Phys.org

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 24, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 24, 2019
A Hamster's Stuffable Cheeks Can be Convenient, But Not in This Case
Hamsters are just one of several rodents that can stuff their mouths full of food and other goodies and carry it long distances to deposit somewhere else,...
NOV 25, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 25, 2019
Here's What Makes Fleas Such a Problem
Fleas are known as one of the world’s peskiest insects, not only because they can compel you itch incessantly, but also because they have a reputatio...
DEC 08, 2019
Earth & The Environment
DEC 08, 2019
Oilseed rape crops thrive under climate change
Research published recently in Current Biology points towards at least one upside of climate change: some agricultural crops will have longer growing seaso...
DEC 27, 2019
Cannabis Sciences
DEC 27, 2019
USDA Approves First State Hemp Growing Plans
Hemp can be cultivated for use as fiber, building materials, CBD oil and more. This plant and its derivatives were legalized federally under the 2018 Farm...
DEC 27, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 27, 2019
How Dog Genomics Can Teach Us More About Human Health
It's been estimated that there are around 70 million pet dogs in the United States, with around 36 percent of households owning at least one dog....
DEC 30, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 30, 2019
Are Blue Animals Truly Blue?
Animals come in all sorts of colors, and while the animal kingdom has most of the rainbow’s colors at its disposal, there are a few exceptions. Some...
Loading Comments...