Sharks, popular in the world of cinema, are formidable predators that impress with their skill and excellent hunting skills. In the real world there is a family of sharks who evolved to walk like a gecko …
These wandering sharks belong to the Hemiscylliidae family, according to a study published last January in the journal Marine and Freshwater Research. Note that this work is the result of a collaboration between researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ), Conservation International, CSIRO, the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. He also saw the participation of the Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
Species that pose no threat to humans
Walking sharks, also known as shouldered sculpin sharks, can “walk” by using their pecs and fins to move on the bottom of the water. Although it sounds scary, researchers assure that they are “adorable” species. “They are incredibly cute little animals. They look more like a walking gecko than a shark, ”quoted Mark Erdmann, researcher at the California Academy of Sciences, quoted by VICE. In fact, walking sharks are less than three feet long on average.
A notable advantage over their prey
These unusual aquatic animals live primarily in the coastal waters off Northern Australia and New Guinea and are therefore not dangerous. “However, their ability to survive in deoxygenated environments and walk on their fins gives them a remarkable advantage over their prey,” said Christine Dudgeon of the University of Queensland. Speaking of which, note that walking sharks feed primarily on shellfish.
Sharks (sculpin sharks) can “walk” by using their pecs and fins to move on the bottom of the water. Photo credit: Youtube screenshot
Now nine known walking shark species
The team has examined the animal for the past 12 years. Their efforts eventually paid off as the number of known species nearly doubled from five to nine. Scientists have actually identified four new species. And thanks to DNA testing, we now know that walking sharks are the youngest specimen on earth.
Researchers believe that several factors could have contributed to the development of this extremely rare type of movement for a fish. First, it is possible that the new species evolved after separating from their original population about two million years ago. It can also be related to changes in coral reefs. The latter are constantly evolving due to the changes that can occur at the level of the oceans (rise or fall in sea level, change in temperature, evolution of currents, etc.).