Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Australian Research Team Discovered Hybrid Species of Shark Family

SYDNEY, Australia (Jan. 03) – The phenomenon of ‘interbreeding of two different species of sharks’ could easily be described as never-seen-before kind of occurrence. The scientists from Australia made their discovery public on Tuesday which might help them to cope with warmer waters.

Australian Research Team Discovered Hybrid Species of Shark Family
Jess Morgan, the head of research, said the interbreeding of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an extraordinary finding with implications for the whole shark family.

“This is evolution in action,” Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP. “It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” he added further.

According to details reveled by research team; the breakthrough came under light during cataloguing work off Australia’s east coast when the team discovered that genetic findings showed certain sharks to be one species while physically they looked to be another.

In normal circumstances before this discovery; the Australian black-tip shark, which is slightly smaller than its common cousin, can only survive in tropical waters, but its crossbred offspring have been found 2,000 kilometres down the coast, implying it could be adjusting to ocean temperatures.

“If it hybridises with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridising is a range expansion,” Morgan said. “It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”

Although the research team is trying to unfold whether the sharks interbreeding process was an old phenomenon discovered recently or it is totally a new kind of occurrence; but scientists have designated ‘climate change and human fishing’ among few some of the potential factors responsible for such happening.

Colin Simpfendorfer, Morgan’s research associate from James Cook University, said early research work suggested that the hybrid type was fairly stout, with a number of generations discovered across 57 specimens.

Simpfendorfer said the study, published late last month in Conservation Genetics, could defy established theories of how sharks had and were continuing to evolve.

“We thought we understood how species of sharks have separated, but what this is telling us is that in reality we probably don’t fully understand the mechanisms that keep species of shark separate,” he said.

“And in fact this may be happening in more species than these two.”

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