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Scientists found hammerhead sharks have twin cousin

The newly found scalloped hammerhead shark faces similar existential threats as its look-alike fishy cousin.

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Researchers recently discovered a new species of scalloped hammerhead shark, yet unnamed, that closely resembles its endangered look-alike. 

The recent findings suggest that previous estimates of the number of hammerhead sharks was likely inflated since they had included the newfound species.  The reason for the late identification is explained by the roughly 20 fewer vertebrae the new species have and differences in their DNA. 

"It's a classic case of long-standing species misidentification that not only casts further uncertainty on the status of the real scalloped hammerhead, but also raises concerns about the population status of this new species," said Mahmood Shivji, professor at Nova Southeastern University, LiveScience reports.

The new species was originally detected in 2005 off the eastern coast of the United States, when Shivji’s research team was examining the DNA of sharks initially perceived to be hammerheads due to their physical characteristics. 

Genetic assessment shows that approximately 7 percent of the sharks detected in US waters originally thought to be scalloped hammerheads belong to the newly discovered species, as scientists from Nova Southern University and the University of South Carolina had confirmed.

Chronic overfishing and finning had resulted into the dramatic reduction of shark populations around the globe and growing concerns about the impact their eventual extinction might have to the ocean ecosystem.


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