A new species of shark discovered off New Zealand

A bristle shark photographed in the deep waters off New Zealand (Photo: William T White et al/Fishes)

A new species of shark discovered off New Zealand

Researchers have discovered a new species of shark in the deep waters off New Zealand, a study reveals. This discovery also introduces a new family composed of previously identified species known as bristle sharks. Named the roughback bristle shark (Dichichthys satoi), this species belongs to the catshark family. Scientists identified it from specimens in natural history museums and observed live animals during deep-water surveys across the western Pacific Ocean, spanning from Japan to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand.

The newly established Dichichthyidae family of bristle sharks includes the recently discovered species and four other species previously classified with different catshark families. Researchers prompted the creation of this new family due to differences in eye shapes, dorsal fins, reproductive organs, and egg-cases. Genetic differences among these species later confirmed the new family grouping.

Bristle shark specimens including a pregnant female (b), centre (Photo: William T White et al/Fishes)
Bristle shark specimens including a pregnant female (b), centre (Photo: William T White et al/Fishes)

One of the most notable differences in these sharks is the structure of their denticles, the tooth-like structures on the external layer of a shark’s skin, which appear ‘bristle-like’ in the newly discovered species, hence the name ‘bristle sharks’.

Researchers characterize the newly identified roughback bristle shark by its ‘relatively firm’, medium to greyish brown body, compressed and tapering tail, and an abdomen longer than its head.It features a ‘prominent crest of enlarged denticles on the dorsal and ventral midline of its caudal peduncle’ – the part of a fish’s body that connects its body to the tail. White margins around its fins distinguish this shark from other members of its new family.

Bristle sharks are relatively large, measuring up to 1 meter in length. These species inhabit waters at depths ranging from 500 to 1500 meters across the Western Pacific. However, the roughback bristle shark has so far only been observed in the waters off New Zealand.

The team responsible for the new study states that the discovery of the new species provides a basis for a ‘taxonomic revision of the catshark families and genera,’ many of which urgently require updating.

The full study, titled ‘Dichichthyidae, a New Family of Deepwater Sharks (Carcharhiniformes) from the Indo-West Pacific, with Description of a New Species,’ by William T. White et al, has been published in the online journal Fishes.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that DIVEMONDO may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate this website earn from qualifying purchases.

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *