FEB 19, 2018 05:09 PM PST
New Atlantic Shark Species Uncovered Thanks to Genetics
WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard
3 5 333

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
MAR 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
MAR 28, 2018
Sea Turtles Use Their Flippers to Handle Food Too
Sea turtles use their flippers to swim around as they peruse the marine environment. On the other hand, new research published in the journal PeerJ this we
APR 04, 2018
Plants & Animals
APR 04, 2018
There Are More Plants on Europe's Mountaintops Than Ever, Study Finds
Earth’s mountaintops generally exhibit harsher environmental conditions than we’d anticipate at normal elevations. Consequently, scientists don
APR 23, 2018
Earth & The Environment
APR 23, 2018
Are grasslands on the decline?
Grasslands cover about a quarter of the world’s land and are the most agriculturally important biome. Though they have many names (prairies, pampas,
JUN 05, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUN 05, 2018
Plastic Pollution to Blame for Harp Seal's Untimely Death
Earth’s oceans and the animals that inhabit them are experiencing a crisis; rogue pieces of plastic pollution pose a considerable risk to marine wild
JUN 06, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUN 06, 2018
Plants Use Camouflage Too
When someone asks you to name a life form that camouflages into its surroundings to avoid predation, you may be quick to respond with “chameleon&rdqu
JUN 22, 2018
Cannabis Sciences
JUN 22, 2018
Marijuana farms are poisoning spotted owls
Northern spotted owls and other wildlife are being exposed to high levels of rat poison in northwest California, and illegal marijuana farms are the most l
Loading Comments...