Friday 20 March 2020

Two rare sawshark species newly discovered in West Indian Ocean.

The sawshark redemption – a Pliotrema kajae specimen

It turns out that there still are new things under the sun
– or in this case, under the water. Scientists have recently discovered not one but two previously-unknown species of the six-gill sawshark, which is itself rarely seen.
Not to be confused with sawfish, sawsharks similarly have a long tooth-edged rostrum (snout) which they swish from side to side in order to cut up prey such as small fish and squid. They differ from sawfish in being shorter (maximum length of about 1.5 m/4.9 ft), sporting a pair of sensory barbels on the rostrum, and having gills located on the bottom of the body.
And whereas most sawsharks have five gill slits, six-gill sawsharks … well, they have six. Previously, there was only one known species of six-gill, called Pliotrema warreni. In a recent investigation of small-scale fisheries off the coasts of Madagascar and Zanzibar, however, an international team of scientists discovered two others.
The new sharks are known as Pliotrema kajae and Pliotrema annae, or more informally as Kaja’s and Anna’s six-gill sawsharks.
A radiograph of Pliotrema annae
A radiograph of Pliotrema annae

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