Scientists marvel at discovery of rapidly evolving walking sharks

In May 2022, a shark was spotted on a headland in Papua New Guinea slowly crawling across a shallow tidal pool before making its way to shore. The scientists were totally amazed and started to investigate. The small shark species is probably still undergoing evolution and has not yet decided whether it is better in the sea or on land. Or he just adapted.

A walking shark

As scientists, we probably won’t encounter a walking shark at dusk, but it wouldn’t scare us anyway. It grows to a length of one meter and belongs to a very rare species. It is called the white-tailed shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum). It got its name from the large black spots near the pectoral fins. In fact, his entire body is covered with spots, meshes that serve as camouflage from predators. It has four massive muscular fins that it can bend like legs and uses as legs. It has inhabited our planet for nine million years, making it the youngest species of shark. So from an evolutionary point of view, it evolved and had to learn to walk incredibly fast (research 2020).

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For treats in the pools

“This is the first time in history that one of the Papuan ‘eyes’ has been documented walking,” said conservationist and biologist F. Galante on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week TV show. The white-nosed shark also inhabits the shallow shores of Australia, where it was filmed last summer. It can live in incredibly warm waters where fish would die. Lives and fishes in shallow coral reefs. He uses his fins to move even in the shallows, where the water barely reaches his belly. In search of his delicacy, which are crabs and other invertebrates, he organizes expeditions to tide pools, where he enjoys them after low tide. To get to the next pool, he learned to walk. Without water on land, they can last more than an hour on one breath and travel up to thirty meters. It can slow down breathing and heart rate. It can survive even in waters with low oxygen content.

Source: Youtube

He adapted quickly

The director of the Florida Museum of Natural History, G. Naylor, explained that similar characteristics are developed in order for the species to survive and obtain a safe environment with enough food. The baby shark was forced to look for food in places where other sharks do not hunt. He therefore developed strong “feet” from his fins, which he not only uses for swimming, but thanks to which he is able to crawl. In addition to the above properties, as scientists believe, the white shark can change the color and arrangement of the spots. According to Naylor and other scientists, no individuals with the same “pattern” have yet been found, and no two sharks look alike. Whether differently colored young are born within one species, or whether they can really change color, is one of the questions that scientists will seek to answer.

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Sources: www.natureworldnews.com, www.wionews.com, www.livescience.com

The article is in Czech

Tags: Scientists marvel discovery rapidly evolving walking sharks

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