A Shiver of Catsharks

12 Mar

Science has found a new species of shark! And not just any shark, but a catshark, which is undoubtedly the cutest word ever. I want one. Actually, I want a whole bunch of them. Which, since they are a type of shark, could be referred to as a shiver of catsharks.

Here is the original article, via Wired Science:

New Shark Species Discovered in Galapagos Islands

By Adam Mann

Scientists conducting deep-sea dives around the Galapagos Islands have identified a new species of shark. Part of a family known as a catsharks, the new species is about 1.3 feet long, roughly the same size as a typical housecat.

Catsharks (also sometimes known as dogfishes) are one of the largest families of sharks. The new species — named Bythaelurus giddingsi — was identified from seven specimens during two submersible treks in 1995 and 1998. Researchers have suggested the Galapagos Catshark as the common name of the new species.

The seven specimens were taken to the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, where scientists compared them to other known catsharks. B. giddingsi individuals are chocolate-brown and have pale, leopard-like spots randomly distributed on their body. This distinguishes them from other closely related species, which are typically dusky or possess a straight line of spots.

The arrangement of spots on each Galapagos Catshark appears to be unique, with most individual sharks having an identifying spot on one side that is smaller, larger, or differently shaped than the opposite-side spot.

The description of the new species appears March 5 in Zootaxa.

Sharks in many places around the world face extinction from human activity, such as commercial and recreational fishing. Researchers estimate that 100 million sharks are killed each year.

As top-level predators, sharks are necessary to keep ecosystems in balance. Because the Galapagos Catshark is only found in one place, researchers fear it may be more susceptible to extinction pressures.


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