It seems like every day there are more and more new species being discovered — and not just in the insect world. Recent news stories have related how scientists discovered a new species of monkeys and elephants and even found a lost kingdom of penguins!
So, it really came as no surprise when scientists discovered a new Atlantic Ocean variant of the Indian and Pacific Ocean sixgill shark. Experts were stunned, though, when a DNA analysis revealed that the ocean predator is tens of millions of years older than the dinosaurs!
The Atlantic sixgill shark (Hexanchus vitulus) is the exception to the species which lives mostly ‘tropical and temperate waters’ and in very deep waters at that, writes Fox News.
— Rick Neale (@RickNeale1) February 27, 2018
When scientists from the Florida Institute of Technology, MarAlliance, Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Southeast Fisheries Science Center looked at the Atlantic sixgill they found that the species differs only slightly from its Pacific brethern. But they also discovered that the Atlantic sixgill has ancestors stretching back to 250 million years ago. Dinosaurs date back to 230 million years ago.
Researchers studied 1,310 base pairs of two mitochondrial genes and found enough differences to label the Atlantic sixgill a different species.
New cryptic species of deep-sea sixgill shark identified in the NW Atlantic thanks2 genetic mitochondrial DNA analysis
🔦+investmnt needed in2 phylogenetic(stockID) & ecobiological studies https://t.co/8yMs5qHU19@FAOfish @NOAAResearch @madforsharks @FloridaTech @FishBaseProject
— Romain López (@romain_lopez) February 27, 2018
“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,” said Florida Tech assistant professor Toby Daly-Engel in a statement. Engel is also the lead researcher of the study.
“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 added in the statement. He also said that the study sheds more light on shark diversity, “particularly diversity in the deep ocean, which we don’t know much about.”
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