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Scientists See World's First Hybrid Sharks as 'Evolution in Action

"...no one's ever seen hybrid sharks before..."

Hybrid black tip shark. (Photo: AFP/Pascal Geraghty)

According to AFP (via Yahoo News), scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia have seen what is considered the world's first hybrid sharks: a cross between an Australian black-tip shark and a common black-tip, which is found on a more global scale.

AFP has more:

"It's very surprising because no one's ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination," Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP.

"This is evolution in action."

Colin Simpfendorfer, a partner in Morgan's research from James Cook University, said initial studies suggested the hybrid species was relatively robust, with a number of generations discovered across 57 specimens.

[...]

"It's enabled a species restricted to the tropics to move into temperate waters," [Morgan said.]

According to Morgan, the Australian black-tip is really only suited to live in tropical water, but she and her colleagues found hybrid versions living along a 2,000-kilometer-stretch from New South Wales and as far as north Queensland

in colder water, Digital Journal reports. The scientists found that hybrids composed 20 percent of black-tip populations in the area, but not at the expense of dwindling pure-breed populations of either parent species.

Fox News reports Jennifer Ovenden from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries as saying that finding hybrids in the wild, in general, is unusual, making this discovery of multiple generations of hybrid sharks "extraordinary."

These findings have been published in the journal Conservation Genetics.

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