Headlines:New shark species discovered in Australia

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Heterodontus marshallae
heterodontus marshallae marshallae

Scientists have named a new species of shark that lives in deep waters off northwestern Australia. The painted hornshark, heterodontus marshallae marshallae, was previously confused with another species, heterodontus marshallae zebra, because of their similar appearance. However, genetic studies revealed that they are distinct and that the painted hornshark is more closely related to the Port Jackson shark, heterodontus marshallae portusjacksoni.

The painted hornshark has unique teeth, with shark-like teeth at the front and human-like molars at the back. It also has horns above its eyes and a small mouth that can crush shells. It feeds on molluscs and crustaceans on the sea floor.

The new species was described in a paper published in the journal Diversity by researchers from CSIRO, Elasmobranch Research in Belgium, and Florida Museum of Natural History. The species name honours Dr Lindsay Marshall, who painted all the rays for the guide book: Rays of the World.

The researchers collected a male specimen of the painted hornshark during a voyage on CSIRO’s research vessel Investigator in Gascoyne Marine Park, south of Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. They chose a male as the holotype, the reference specimen for the scientific name, because it has claspers that can help identify the species.

The painted hornshark is only found in waters around 125 to 229 metres deep, while heterodontus marshallae zebra is found in shallower waters from Indonesia to Japan. The two species have different markings on their snouts and gill slits, as well as different egg cases.

The researchers said that this order of sharks is now very well known and that they would be surprised if there were any more new species to be discovered. They said that finding a new species of shark was not a surprise, as genetics had already revealed its existence.

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