What has long, snow-white eyes, swims along the deep waters off Australia and attaches its eggs to coral reefs?
A new species of shark named Apristurus ovicorrugatus.
The discovery process began many years ago, when researchers were going through uncatalogued material in the Australian National Fish Collection, located in Hobart, where they found a mysterious egg that they couldn’t personalize.
This led to a fact-finding mission that eventually revealed a new species of catshark demon.
The researchers announced their discovery in a paper published in the Journal of Fish Biology titled, “Which came first, the shark or the egg?“
abristorus The genus, which is the second most diverse group of sharks with about 40 species, is known as the ghost or catshark demon. Helen O’Neill, a research technician and one of the paper’s authors, said the name is based on “the fact that they’re deep-dwelling and kind of scary.” Sharks are bottom feeding and have elongated, cat-like eyes.
But something makes the newly discovered species even more terrifying. These sharks have a snow-white irises, which is an unusual feature for deep-water creatures. Mrs. O’Neill said she could only theorize as to why the shark had white eyes. She said they might help them see better in the dark.
Just one more Abristorus White-eyed cats, but the researchers were able to tell the difference between the two similar species because of their eggshells.
The Apristurus ovicorrugatus ‘ The authors said that the egg sacs have strong T-shaped projections; The name ovicorrugatus refers to these corrugated egg cases. The unique markings were first described by scientists in a 2011 paper, also the first record of cases of eggs, but they lacked enough evidence to identify a new species.
The egg sacs helped the researchers learn that the new species lays its eggs by attaching them to coral reefs, which prevents them from being swept away by currents.
Using egg case morphology and other methods, such as studying teeth, scales, genetics and livers, the scientists were able to write and submit a first draft of the study — but it was not accepted because it lacked genetic material, Ms. O’Neill said.
She feared that this process would take 20 years. “I could be dead before that happens,” she said.
The researchers needed more evidence, but they were unable to obtain genetic material from the original egg case sample because it had already been preserved, and the egg cases themselves also contained too much collagen to be properly tested.
Then late last year, A.J Research trip Successfully found cases of Apristurus ovicorrugatus eggs off Western Australia. “That was very fortunate,” said Ms. O’Neill.
Reproduction in sharks varies greatly: some lay eggs, others hatch them internally, and still others give birth to live young. But Apristurus Sex shows the way eggs are laid in pairs, one for each ovary, and these sharks have two. This leads to two cases of eggs.
And they found one such egg case that the researchers found contained an embryo that was able to provide the necessary genetic material.
“This is the final piece of the puzzle,” thought Mrs. O’Neill, “in proving that this is a new species.”