New Hybrid Shark

“Evolution in action,” said scientists with the announcement of the discovery of the world’s first hybrid shark in Australian waters. It is being viewed as a potential sign that the predators were adapting to cope with climate change.

Jess Morgan, from the University of Queensland and his partner Colin Simpfendorfer of James Cook University, said initial studies suggested the hybrid species was relatively robust with a number of generations discovered across 57 specimens.

The finding was made during cataloging work off Australia’s east coast where genetic testing showed certain sharks to be one species when physically looking to be another. It means the Australian black-tip could be adapting to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.

“If it hybridizes with the common species, it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridizing is a range expansion,” Morgan said.  “It’s enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters.”

Additional information on this study can be found in the December issue of Conservation Genetics.

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