Interspecies dating isn’t really permitted in the shark world. But off the coast of Australia, scientists have discovered the world’s first hybrid sharks.
Lead researcher Jess Morgan said local Australian black-tip sharks have been mating with the common black-tip shark. It is the first time that researchers have found evidence of hybrid sharks.
“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… This is evolution in action.”
The AFP reports that 57 specimens have already been discovered off of the coast of Australia.
Morgan believes that Australian black tips and common black tips have started mating in order to ensure their survival as water temperatures change due to global warming. The Australian black tip only lives in tropical waters but the hybrid sharks have been found more than 1000 miles off of the coast.
“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… It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”
Colin Simpfendorfer, a member of the research team, said that the findings, which were published last month in Conservation Genetics, could challenge established ides of shark evolution.
“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… And in fact, this may be happening in more species than these two.”
Here’s a video report from Newsy.com.
Do you think Morgan and her team are watching evolution in action on the coast of Australia?