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World's First Hybrid Shark Linked To Climate Change

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A hybrid black tip shark containing both common and Australian black tip DNA
A hybrid black tip shark containing both common and Australian black tip DNA

The world’s first hybrid shark – a cross between two different species of black tip – has been found off the coast of Australia.

Scientists say interbreeding between the common black tip (Carcharhinus limbatus) and the Australian black tip (Carcharhinus tilstoni) sharks are a sign the predators are adapting to warmer waters.

The species are genetically distinct and tend to live in different temperature waters.

The discovery of the shark – one among 57 – along a 200km stretch of coast from Queensland to New South Wales – was reported in the Conservation Genetics journal, published by researchers from the University of Queensland last month.

Dr Jennifer Ovenden, from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries told abc.net.au: “It was unprecedented because hybridisation between sharks in the wild has never been reported before in Australia or worldwide.

“Species with the smaller body can hybridise with the species with larger body, allowing that tropical species to move further south.

“We are thinking that it will provide the sharks with a mechanism to adapt to future environmental change.”

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Filed by Sara C Nelson