A baby tooth map has emerged showing the teeth of a baby shark in China that has been described as “baby shark” in an article published by The Globe and Mail.
The map, which is part of a special project by the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Study of the World’s Animals, has been published online by the Chinese scientific journal Science Advances.
The researchers, who worked with a team of international collaborators, described the discovery as an exciting breakthrough.
“We’ve found the first tooth map of a species of shark from China, which means that it is a species that’s not commonly found in the wild, but we can’t be sure whether it’s actually a species,” said co-author Jianhong Jiang, an associate professor at the University’s Institute of Zoology.
“It’s a really interesting discovery and one that could lead to better understanding of the evolutionary history of sharks.”
The study also revealed that the shark was an adult female, which the researchers described as the first indication of an emerging population of the species.
“This is the first confirmed case of the ‘Baby Shark,’ the first known specimen of the shark,” said study co-investigator Peng Li, an assistant professor in the Institute of Marine and Ocean Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“In terms of age, this shark was about 40-45 years old, but it’s quite a young adult and we can only speculate as to why it’s so young.”
Jiang said the finding is “extremely exciting” and added that it may help us understand more about the sharks that are often found in zoos around the world.
“If we can determine whether or not this shark is actually related to a previously unknown species, then we might be able to understand more clearly the genetic relationships between these species and what is actually occurring in their environment.”
The team found that the tooth of the baby shark is unusually long and broad, suggesting that it was likely born in captivity.
The team also noted that the species has a very large mouth and “frighteningly large” jaw.
“A typical shark in the Southern Hemisphere is about 3-5 metres (10-15 feet) in length,” said Jiang.
“This is much larger than many shark species, such as the tiger shark and even the largest shark species in the world, the Great White Shark.”
The researchers suggest that the new tooth could help them to better understand the genetic diversity of the animal, and also provide new insight into the species’ diet.
“Our goal is to understand whether the baby sharks are the same species as the previously known species and if this new species has similar characteristics as the previous species, which may help researchers to better predict what is going on in its environment,” said Li.
“And perhaps even, if it is the new species, to better classify it into the families that it belongs to.”
The University of Britain’s Institute For the Study