Scientists: Dozens of hybrid sharks found off Australia
The hybrid shark contains DNA from both the Australian blacktip shark and the common blacktip shark, researchers say.
January 2nd, 2012
10:59 AM ET

Scientists: Dozens of hybrid sharks found off Australia

The world's first hybrid sharks have been discovered in substantial numbers off the coast of Australia, and scientists say it may be an indication the creatures are adapting to climate change.

Australian researchers say they've found 57 animals that are a cross between the Australian blacktip shark and the common blacktip shark, two closely related but genetically distinct species.

"Hybridization could enable the sharks to adapt to environmental change as the smaller Australian black tip currently favors tropical waters in the north while the larger common black tip is more abundant in sub-tropical and temperate waters along the south-eastern Australian coastline," researcher Jennifer Ovenden of the University of Queensland said in a press release.

Ovenden said the discovery is a first for sharks, and it could indicate that other shark and ray species may interbreed in reaction to climate change.

The findings were confirmed using DNA testing and measurements. Scientists from the University of Queensland, James Cook University's Fishing and Fisheries Research Center, the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries will conduct further studies to determine the fitness of the new hybrids, according to the press release.

The hybrids were found along a 2,000-kilometer (1,243-mile) stretch of the eastern Australian coast from Queensland to New South Wales. The breadth of their distribution and their numbers impressed researchers.

"Wild hybrids are usually hard to find, so detecting hybrids and their offspring is extraordinary. To find 57 hybrids along 2,000 kilometers of coastline is unprecedented," Ovenden said.

Jess Morgan, another University of Queensland researcher, told The Australian newspaper that hybrid species are common in fish because their eggs are fertilized in the water.

"Sharks physically mate, which is usually a good way to make sure you don't hybridize with the wrong species," The Australian quoted him as saying.

"The results of this research show that we still have a lot to learn about these important ocean predators," Colin Simpfendorfer from James Cook University's Fishing and Fisheries Research Center said in the press release.

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Filed under: Discoveries • News • On Earth
soundoff (557 Responses)
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    July 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  3. ericdb

    This isn't all that unprecedented, but cool to see evolution in action. These were probably two pseudo-species evolving apart, and some phenomenon brought a portion of their habitat ranges back together, allowing interbreeding. VERY premature to claim climate change, but hey, that gets you in the headlines baby! Gotta love popular science. I would like to know if the hybrid offspring are fertile?

    May 1, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  4. Epixeirhseis

    Amazing things here. I am very satisfied to see your post. Thanks so much and I am having a look forward to touch you. Will you please drop me a mail?

    April 19, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  5. Seagrass Rug

    I don't think I'll be going surfing off the coast of Australia in the near future. It's not worth the risk of being attacked by an evil shark.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  6. Roger This

    I spotted several hundred Toyota Hybrids heading South. I guess this was related to global warming too.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  7. seo tools

    Hahah, My laptop crashed when I was browsing lightyears.blogs.cnn.com last time I was here. And for the past 2 months I have been looking for this weblog, so thankful I located it once again! :D

    January 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  8. Dr.K.

    If people would put as much energy toward learning about science as they put toward finding ways to smugly deny it, I suspect the human condition would be much much better.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  9. MarineScientist

    This is an awesome scientific find. First time ever that anything like this has been discovered. It's too bad that all people can do in this comment section is talk about how to eat them, and argue a pointless argument about whether global warming is real or not, which it most certainly is. As a Senior in college, who studies marine science, and will be going to school to obtain my Masters and possibly PhD in Marine Biology, I can tell you all that there is substantial evidence that greenhouse gases are building up in the atmosphere due to human consumption of fossil fuels, and that this buildup is not only causing increased warming of the climate (indicated by the more severe storms and altering of weather patters all over the place), but also causing the ocean to become acidified to the point that now there are many organisms in the ocean that are almost literally dissolving. We need to realize what we are doing to the environment around us, and stop being so consumed by greed and an unwillingness to change, or we are going to be forced to change due to a changing planet, just like these sharks.

    January 4, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  10. jshie

    Where is the science, as opposed to the speculation, that there is any connection whatsoever to climate change? This is a prime example of why the warmists are losing the battle.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  11. Megz

    Regardless of your opinion on climate change, please take 12 minutes to educate yourselves. RIP Stephen Schneider.

    "I'll confess my prejudiced: Then end of the world and good for you are the two lowest probability outcomes."

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDM3T0-o3r0&w=640&h=390]

    A year in the making, this video pays tribute to a critical scientific and academic figure in postmodern history: Climatologist and Stanford Professor Stephen Schneider.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  12. Primewonk

    Wow! Evolution AND climate change.

    No wonder the talibangelical tea baggers who purposefully choose to be ignorant about science are going bonkers over this.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • MarineScientist

      Haha great comment. They are going nuts

      January 4, 2012 at 10:15 am |
      • We are the champions my friend!

        Hey MarineScientist and Primewonk,

        If one has decided to go Bonkers or Nuts, it is always good to make travel plans. So when we decide it is time to go either bonkers OR nuts we conservatives will call ahead to any of the motels there and have the libtards manning the front desk make us reservations. Like as not the land of bonkers and nuts, like the land of Fruits and Nuts out on the left coast, will be so full up with YOUR type that we will have to turn around and come back.

        I would engage you both further in a battle of wits, but it would be unsporting as I can tell you are both quite unarmed.

        January 5, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  13. hecep

    A hybrid shark? Great. I'll all for improved nautical mileage.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  14. dave

    Polar Bears spend most of their time eating baby seals and pooping -– Why do so many people hate baby seals and love bear scat

    January 3, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • We are the champions my friend!

      Hilarious logic Dave! My only answer, in respective order, is that it must be for the same reason that they hate unborn baby Humans and love Obama....Badda-badda-BING!!

      January 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  15. Bobertmcboberson

    Not going to say climate change isn't happening, But how do they know it's not just that these sharks don't give a crap about who they shag?

    January 3, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  16. We are the champions my friend!

    Global warming is a myth, spread by lying, ignorant, hot headed, deadender, commie libtards who want more of the productive classes money to waste on projects employing themselves and their otherwise unemployable libtard friends, who cannot find a job in the private sector they pretend they despise.

    When global warming fails to appear, the current "data" having been proven to be falsified by the biased "researchers" and therefore useless, they will without apology or remorse, move on to some other scheme to pick our pockets.

    Bottom line is, the liberal drone class is seeing the end of it's free ride on the backs of the productive. Finally, after 80 years of expensive and pestilient, hateful and divisive; and downright destructive, hegemonic rule over the basically conservative American people, their corrupt rule is slowly but surely coming to its end. They will go out of power, noisily and expensively, kicking and screaming, screeching and squalling, and loudly proclaiming the cosmic unfairness of it all the entire way out. But it will avail them nothing, because out they will go just the same.

    And I can't wait.

    All the libtard screeching and squalling that I have read here today, and which will be directed at me by all those in whom I have just hit a nerve, should in a small way prove to the sane among you that I am correct.

    Have a nice day. And by the way, try the tea it's delicious. It sure beats the liberal koolaid!

    Cheers!

    January 3, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • Primewonk

      Another denialist who chooses to ignore science and the evidence.

      January 3, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • We are the champions my friend!

        I see you left your name Primewonk, and a one line description of yourself, but why didn't you leave a reply to my comment?

        January 5, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  17. steve

    how many miles to the gallon do they get?

    January 2, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  18. b4bigbang

    I wonder if these hybrid sharks are sterile like mules.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  19. miklas

    This whole climate change craze is based on a mistaken belief. Just because the temperature rises for a few years, doesn't mean it is going to rise forever. Our body temperature is changing slightly from hour to hour, but there is no need to believe that we will die of heat stroke. If scientists would understand that changes in nature are like WAVES, they come and go they would stop scaring the hell out of the gullible public.

    As far as greenhouse gases: The earth is NOT a greenhouse. It is a very complex unit that somehow regulates the temperature. At least it has done it so far with success. Earth is NOT a closed unit like a greenhouse. It has no walls where gases can't escape. Good old Earth will solve this problem WITHOUT YOU WHINING LIKE OLD ARAB LADIES AT A FUNERAL LOL

    January 2, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Sean Reif

      And just what is your scientific background to make these proclamations oh wise one?

      January 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  20. ArcticFoxMan

    Next it will be sharks with fricken lazers on top of their heads!

    January 2, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  21. Leonard

    So now, climate change is even causing animals to morph into whole new creatures! wow, this climate change must be really serious. I'm SOLD! ....erhm, not.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Why do people who don't understand science, come onto message boards and denigrate science?

      Sure, not everyone can be knowledgeable about all fields. We all choose what to understand and what to be ignorant about. For instance, I choose to be ignorant about Elizabethan Literature. But I don't go onto message boards about Elizabethan Literature and make inane posts demonstrating my ignorance.

      That's what I don't get. The posters here who chose to be ignorant about evolution and climate change, making all these posts denigrating evolution and climate change.

      January 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  22. Carl

    I saw a guy at the zoo the other day eyeing a not so unattractive female orangutang.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Leonard

      Yeah, it's all this climate change. It's getting real bad. Soon, we'll have articles about how sea horses are mating with ferengies. That's how bad this could get! We've got to pay carbon taxes, or the whole world is going to be destroyed by the goa'uld, in some sort of climate change battle for the galaxy..

      January 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  23. b4bigbang

    b4bigbang

    Polar bears were in danger of drowning due to global warming but we need not worry, because soon they will stop eating seals and will crossbreed with them instead, providing them with all the swimming ability they need....

    January 2, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  24. Rico

    This is insane, Sharks that get 40mpg will be nearly impossible to outrun.

    January 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  25. Caspar Schlickum

    I figured the climate change reference was because hybrid sharks use less fuel, so they were mating to create hybrid versions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and therefore slow climate change? Or am I missing something here : )

    January 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  26. slupdawg

    I thought this article was about sharka with friggin' lasers on their heads!

    January 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  27. Zurg

    Evolution at work!

    January 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Zurg at work!

      January 2, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  28. Jim Weix

    I wonder how the Creationists are going to explain that one. Maybe God got bored last year and...ZAP!!!..a new species is created.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  29. Chris

    I once tried an Australian blacktip, but I'm really not into fish. I was just curious and did some experimenting in college.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  30. Not Fat

    Do they have friggen' lazars on their heads?

    January 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  31. achja

    what is happening to people I wonder..., whenever I read comment sections I can't believe my eyes when I read some of the comments given – disrespect, abuse, insults... look in the mirror and talk to yourself first. Because – the other one is you!!

    January 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  32. Hugh Jass

    Interesting article, but lacking a lot of information.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  33. MONEY

    money

    January 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  34. ZZZeus

    Two things that are false about this:
    1) There is no such thing as global warming. Chuck Norris was cold, so he turned the sun up.
    2) There is no such thing as evolution, just a list of plants and animals Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  35. otiose8

    That the hybrid sharks have any causal connection to global warming (itself still speculation about what may or may not happen) is speculation.

    January 2, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      Agree

      January 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
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    January 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  37. Jennifer

    Hybrid sharks and they get 1243 miles to the gallon!!!! Thats soo cool!!!

    January 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
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