New Species of Shark Has Ancestors Older Than Dinosaurs, Says Florida Tech Professor and Lead Researcher

By  //  February 26, 2018

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ancestors lived 250 million years ago

ABOVE VIDEO: Scientists recently discovered that sixgill sharks in the Atlantic Ocean are their own unique species. (United News International Video)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA (FOX NEWS) – Maybe they just needed a bigger boat.

After decades of looking for it, scientists have discovered a new species of shark, one whose ancestors lived 250 million years ago.

Appropriately dubbed Atlantic sixgill shark, the Hexanchus vitulus belongs to the sixgill family of sharks and lives in the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantic sixgill sharks are different from the sixgill sharks that live in the Indian and Pacific Oceans only on a molecular level — it is not something that could be spotted with the naked eye.

“We showed that the sixgills in the Atlantic are actually very different from the ones in the Indian and Pacific Oceans on a molecular level, to the point where it is obvious that they’re a different species even though they look very similar to the naked eye,” said Florida Tech assistant professor Toby Daly-Engel in a statement.

Engel is also the lead researcher of the study.

The sixgill shark is mostly found in “tropical and temperate waters” according to the study’s abstract, which cited areas of the Atlantic Ocean as Belize, Gulf of Mexico and Bahamas.

The scientists looked at 1,310 base pairs of two mitochondrial genes and found that there were enough differences to determine that the Atlantic version of the sixgill shark is different enough from those living in the Pacific and Indian oceans to be considered a different species.

Atlantic sixgill shark (Image by Ivy Baremore/MarAlliance)

The study, which has been published in the journal Marine Biodiversity, was a collaboration of work from different institutions.

The Florida Institute of Technology, MarAlliance, Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and the National Marine Fisheries Service, Southeast Fisheries Science Center were all involved.

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