As one of the oldest species on the planet, Sharks have had millions of years of evolution to perfect their predator form, and now sharks are getting even more specialized; possibly in an attempt to better adapt to ocean temperatures. For the first time, researchers have detected 57 hybrid sharks off the coast of Australia. These offspring of two genetically distinct species represent an amazing and unprecedented discovery.
In five different areas along a 1,200-mile (1,900-km) stretch of Australia’s eastern coastline, researchers found almost 60 sharks that were the product of interbreeding between two species, common blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus limbatus) and Australian blacktip sharks (Carcharhinus tilstoni.) Discovering one or two would have been incredible, but finding 57 proved that it was no fluke.
What caused this sudden interbreeding between shark species? It may be the need to keep up with rising ocean temperatures that led to these hybrid sharks. The smaller Australian black tip currently prefers tropical waters in the north, while the larger common blacktip prefers sub-tropical and temperate waters. This may just be another sign of evolution and adapting to climate change by one of the ocean’s top predators.
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