New species of hammerhead shark discovered

Ben Kersey - Mar 27, 2012
New species of hammerhead shark discovered

Is it safe to go back into the water? That’s not really for us to say, but we’ll remind you that there’s always something nasty in the ocean. Scientists have discovered the latest: more precisely, they’ve managed to track down a new species of shark. They haven’t given it a name yet, although it closely resembles a scalloped hammerhead.

The shark was first spotted in 2005 off South Florida coasts, but confirmed more recently. The new discovery potentially means bad news for the scalloped hammerhead, already up for protection as an endangered species. Scientists believe many sharks counted as scalloped hammerheads could have been this new species due to the similarities.

Mahmood Shivji oversaw research of the new species at the Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center and the Guy Harvey Research Institute. He believes that official recognizing this new species of shark is “very important”.

Without management intervention to curtail its inadvertent killing, we run the risk that overfishing could eradicate an entire shark species before its existence is even properly acknowledged.

Scientists have debated for some time whether or not to declare the particular shark as a new species. What finally tipped the balance was a study published in the latest edition of the Marine Biology journal, saying the shark had also been discovered off the coast of south Brazil. The new shark has 20 fewer vertebrae than the scalloped hammerhead, and is believed to have first split from a common ancestor over 4.5 million years ago.

[via Charlotte Observer]

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