New Shark Species Found Off South Carolina

By Amy Sinatra Ayres

Barry Peters / University of South Carolina -- Scientists say they can't tell just from looking at it whether this …On the outside, the Carolina hammerhead looks virtually identical to the scalloped hammerhead. But the shark, which lurks in the waters off the coast of the Carolinas, is genetically distinct, scientists say.

The rare new species has 10 fewer vertebrae than their cousin and is slightly smaller, researchers reported in the journal Zootaxa in August. To determine the difference, a team from the University of South Carolina gathered 80 sharks that looked like scalloped hammerheads, and examined their DNA.


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They found that of the 80, 54 of them were actually Carolina hammerheads. Shark populations have declined drastically in the past few decades. "Here, we're showing that the scalloped hammerheads are actually two things," says lead researcher Joe Quattro. "Since the cryptic species is much rarer than the [more widespread one], God only knows what its population levels have dropped to." - Read it at Live Science via Fox News

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