x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Nature's new surprise

The discovery of hybrid sharks in Australia could have huge implications on how marine life adapts to climate change.

In every environment, across every continent and in every sea, Mother Nature continues to astound with her unpredictability.

Breeding across different species is, we are told, extremely rare in nature. But a new discovery reminds us that such things are not impossible.

Scientists studying marine life along Australia's Pacific coast have made the stunning discovery of the world's first hybrid sharks.

The two species of black tip sharks are admittedly very similar in evolutionary terms. But that they have been found to be interbreeding is still an unprecedented discovery, according to the researchers.

"It's very surprising because no one's ever seen shark hybrids before, " Jess Morgan, from the University of Queensland, told AFP. "This is evolution in action."

The implications for the shark world, and beyond, are significant. The coming together of the Australian black-tip shark with its more widespread counterpart, the common black-tip, could tell us something about how marine life is adapting to climate change. The Australian shark usually lives in warmer waters than its cousin, but the studies have shown that it migrates thousands of kilometres to mate in cooler waters.

Global warming, you may just have met your match. And if sharks can do it, other sea and land animals may also find ways to adapt.