You never quite know what you will find when you go looking at nature, and according to PEOPLE, scientists have discovered four new species of sharks and they can all walk. Previously, they only knew of one species of shark that could walk.
This feature of the sharks is rather unusual. All four of the species use their “muscular pelvic fins to walk along the ocean floor.” It is thought that these sharks may have been using the ability to walk for almost 9 million years.
New species of walking sharks have been discovered in the tropics. Data suggest the new species evolved after the sharks moved away from their original population, became genetically isolated and developed into new species that use their fins to walk. https://t.co/iRZSqEkkGk pic.twitter.com/DtPrBi3JCZ
— Ajit Johnson (@ajitjohnson_n) January 22, 2020
Most people are more familiar with great white sharks and they tend to spend most of their time deep in the ocean. Walking sharks, on the other hand, tend to live in shallow waters. Scientists say that they are a significant discovery, according to CNN.
Four new species of walking sharks have been discovered since 2008, bringing the total to nine https://t.co/XKDOpX5fuT
— National Geographic (@NatGeo) January 24, 2020
It took 12 years of study for scientists to estimate how long the sharks have been walking. According to findings published by Marine and Freshwater Research, they were studying walking sharks to see how long they have been evolving and ended up finding four more species that have the same ability.
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They think that the younger species may have only been around for about 2 million years, which is a remarkably short amount of time. According to the co-author of the paper and the vice president of Conservation International, Mark Erdmann, “The discovery proves that modern sharks have remarkable evolutionary staying power and the ability to adapt to environmental changes.”
The walking sharks appear as if they are wearing military camouflage, making them a type of shark known as ‘epaulette’ sharks. According to Time, these sharks tend to eat invertebrates and small fish but are harmless to humans. They are less than 1 meter long on average.
Walking sharks are quite adorable pic.twitter.com/twP4XG1cMK
— newamerykahn (@newamerykahn) January 23, 2020
One researcher at the University of Queensland, Australia and the lead author of the study, Dr. Christine Dudgeon said, “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.”
Epaulette Sharks have been HEAVILY speccing for it. They can shut off some organs and parts their brains to conserve oxygen while walking between tide pools. They can last hours, apparently.
— Godzilla Shill (@AssMcFast) January 24, 2020
You can find the newly discovered walking sharks in New Guinea, Eastern Indonesia and parts of Australia. Erdman is hopeful that conservation will be a priority along with this discovery. He said, “A global recognition of the need to protect walking sharks will help ensure they thrive providing benefits for marine ecosystems and to local communities through the sharks’ value as tourism assets. It’s essential that local communities, governments, and the international public continue working to establish marine protected areas to help ensure our ocean’s biodiversity continues to flourish.”
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