Scientists have made an astonishing discovery of four new species of sharks. What makes these sharks different is their unusual ability to walk.
According to a CNN report, these sharks might be walking the ocean floor for at least nine million years. Nevertheless, they are still described as one of the most recently evolved species of sharks on Earth. The details of the discovery have been provided in a 12-year study that was published this week in Marine and Freshwater Research.
So far there were only one known walking shark species, which is said to be only two million years old. As per the report, the scientists spent more than a decade examining and studying the DNA of this shark and found for more species that have reportedly been in existence for at least nine million years.
"The discovery proves that modern sharks have remarkable evolutionary staying power and the ability to adapt to environmental changes," said Mark Erdmann, the paper's co-author and Conservation International Vice President of Asia-Pacific marine programs.
Sharks have apparently been in existence even before dinosaurs inhabited the earth. They have been navigating the deep seas for as long as 400 million years ago, which is approximately more than 100 million years before the oldest dinosaur fossil must have existed. However, they are considered slow to evolve. Nevertheless, the recent discovery suggests that it is a remarkable evolution.
These species of walking sharks are also known as epaulette and are inhabiting the waters of eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and parts of Australia. The sharks use their muscular fins to walk along the shallow reefs of the oceans.
The discovery of these newly found sharks is hoped to initiate conservation efforts.
"A global recognition of the need to protect walking sharks will help ensure they thrive providing benefits for marine ecosystems and to local communities through the sharks' value as tourism assets," Erdman said. "It's essential that local communities, governments, and the international public continue working to establish marine protected areas to help ensure our ocean's biodiversity continues to flourish," he added,