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New species of shark discovered in Indian Ocean; pic released

Researchers from the Pacific Shark Research Center in the United States performed studies along the Southwest Indian Ridge, an underwater mountain chain that runs between Africa and Antarctica, in 2012 and 2014. The crew captured eight deep-sea sharks while investigating the seamounts off the coast of Madagascar and began examining them in-depth.

They just discovered that the sharks belonged to a new species of catshark, which they called Apristurus manocheriani in honour of Greg Manocherian, a shark conservationist and researcher. They proposed a common name – Manocherian’s Catshark.

The Department of Ichthyology at the California Academy of Sciences has preserved specimens of the new species if you want to see them. Over a million fish specimens are housed at the institution, with many more waiting to be investigated. You wouldn’t want to go too near a live one since it has a lot of big teeth in both its upper and lower jaws. The male and female of the species are around 55cm and 49cm tall, respectively. The findings were reported in the Ocean Science Foundation Journal.

In an email to IE.com, the lead author of the research David A. Ebert explained why this species appears strange: ‘Sharks are a very diverse group and people do not realise that there are nearly 536 species. The discovery of this new deep-sea species also highlights how little we still know of the deepsea.’ He is the Program Director of the Pacific Shark Research Center and the author of the recently released book ‘Sharks of the World: A Complete Guide.’

‘The new species is part of the largest shark family – Pentachidae and also part of the largest order of sharks – Carcharhiniformes. At the moment we are unaware of any existing threats to the species since it appears to live around seamounts far from landmasses. However, now that it is named we can further investigate. The team is currently working on some additional species from the same region that were also collected as part of the project,’ he added.

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Apristurus catsharks have been found in nearly all oceans, including the Arctic, but not the Antarctic. They love slopes, seamounts, deep-sea ridges, and trenches and may be found at depths of 200–2200 metres.

This genus contains 39 species, the bulk of which are found in the western Pacific. Six different species have been found in the western Indian Ocean.

Longicephalus, brunneus and spongiceps are the three subgroups of the genus Apristurus. The longicephalus subgroup has a snout that is exceptionally long, thin, and slender, whereas the other two have snouts that are shorter. The newly discovered species is the second known species from the western Indian Ocean, belonging to the Apristurus spongiceps subgroup.

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