Featured Image Credit: FIU
Researchers in Belize may have discovered a new species of hammerhead shark. WOW!
The scientists were studying bonnethead sharks, which are a smaller hammerhead species, when some DNA analysis suggested that there may be two completely different species. The bonnethead shark has a wide range from the United States to Latin America and is currently listed as a species of “Least Concern” by IUCN. However, IF the newly discovered hammerhead species holds true, then the current extinction classification could change.
Leading the team who made the discovery is Demian Chapman, who is a marine scientist at Florida International University (FIU) and the head of Global FinPrint (a global shark survey project). In the recent FIU press release Chapman commented, “Now we have to define the range of each of these species individually and assess them independently against where the potential threats are. For example, there are published reports that bonnetheads have nearly been wiped out by unregulated fishing in Brazil. We do not know which species this is and our finding of a new species in Belize highlights that there could be more undescribed ones out there, each one facing a unique set of threats.”
Thanks to a DNA analysis conducted at Stony Brook University by Andrew Fields, the team in Belize now knows that the genetic difference between the two species began several million years ago.
Louis Bacon, the founder and chairman of The Moore Charitable Foundation added, “Discoveries like this have the potential to significantly advance shark conservation efforts and underscore the need for increased protection. We are delighted by this finding and commend the research team on their important work.”
It’s hammer time for shark conservation.