Sharks are fearless animals, but they also have a certain attraction to humans. Just look at the number of movies that depict attacks of the most diverse genres, including some that are pure fantasy. But have you ever imagined sharks having teeth similar to ours? The discovery has been published in the journal diversity.
The researchers made the discovery in the deep waters off the northeastern coast of Australia. The spotted shark (Heterodontus marshallae) is a newly described species that belongs to the order Heterodontiformes, and is distinguished by its anthropomorphic molars.
Heterodontiformes is an order of only one genus and nine different species. However, genetic analysis performed on one of the species, believed to be the Heterodontus zebra, showed that it was genetically different, according to information from IFLScience.
Similarities with other sharks
- Researchers believe it took a long time to identify it due to similarities in patterns and markings on shark skin that differ slightly between species.
- The Heterodontus zebra has a dark band behind the gill slits, which is absent in the new species.
- Both species are pale, with 22 dark brown bands and saddles. They do, however, have slight differences in the markings on their snout and below their gill slits. “Their egg conditions are also different,” said Dr. Will White, a researcher with the Australian National Fish Collection (ANFC). The new species was first described by comparing museum specimens.
- Serendipitously, a research vessel surveying deep-sea habitats in Western Australia came across a live specimen.
- “We have a sample of females in our group, but the sample we collected during the trip is male. We prefer to use males in shark patterns because they have claspers, which are external genitalia that can vary between species and help us to distinguish them.”
New species of shark
- Spotted sharks live at depths of 125 to 229 meters, and although typical shark teeth are arranged in rows at the front of their mouths, they have human-like molar formation behind the rows.
- This adaptation allows sharks to crush prey such as crustaceans and molluscs.
- They tend to stay on the sea floor and feed mainly on creatures such as molluscs and crustaceans. It has a small mouth, explained Helen O’Neill, but crushing jaws large for the size of its skull and powerful enough to crush snail shells.
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