scientists discover shark graveyard at the bottom of the ocean
Shark teeth collected from seafloor near Cocos (Keeling) Islands at depth 5400m. Credit: Museums Victoria-Ben Healley

Scientists on CSIRO research vessel (RV) Investigator have made some exciting finds during recent voyages, including collecting a specimen of a new species of shark and discovering a shark graveyard in the deep ocean.

The graveyard even contained the fossilized teeth of the ancient ancestor of the megalodon shark.

The discoveries were made on RV Investigator—operated by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency—during biodiversity surveys in two of Australia’s newest marine parks. The first was a recent voyage to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park in the remote Indian Ocean. The second is an underway voyage to the Gascoyne Marine Park off Western Australia. Both voyages have been undertaken for Parks Australia, who manage Australia’s marine parks network.

Shark expert from CSIRO’s Australian National Fish Collection, Will White said one of the most exciting finds of the underway voyage was the collection of a specimen of a new species of shark.

“Early in the voyage, we collected a striking small, stripey hornshark,” said Dr. White.

“This species is unique to Australia, but it hasn’t yet been described and named. The specimen we collected will be incredibly important to science because we’ll use it to describe the species,” he said.

scientists discover shark graveyard at the bottom of the ocean
Helen O’Neill CSIRO with undescribed stripey hornshark. Credit CSIRO-Frederique Olivier

Hornsharks include the well-known Port Jackson shark and are generally slow-moving species found in shallow waters. They spend most of the day camouflaged among rocks and seaweed on the seafloor and come out at night to feed. However, this new species lives in water over 150 m deep and we know nothing about its behavior.

Dr. White said biodiversity surveys are always exciting as you never know what you might find.

“Australia has a truly enormous marine estate that’s home to some of the most diverse marine life on the planet but we still know very little about what lives beneath the waves,” said Dr. White.

“From the very first survey on this voyage, we’ve been making new discoveries and collecting data that will be vital in helping to protect and conserve the life in our oceans,” he said.

Chief Scientist on the underway voyage, John Keesing from CSIRO, said the discovery of new species was quite common on biodiversity surveys such as this.

“It’s been estimated that around a third of the species collected on recent biodiversity survey voyages on RV Investigator may be new to science,” said Dr. Keesing.

“The discoveries we make aren’t just limited to new species. These voyages give us the opportunity to learn more about marine ecosystems, as well as species range, abundance and behavior,” he said.

Scientists are using a range of equipment to study marine life and seabed habitats in the Gascoyne Marine Park, including underwater towed and remote cameras. Several shark species have been captured on film during the voyage. This includes sharks taking bites of the equipment.

However, one of the more unsual finds on the previous voyage to Cocos (Keeling) Islands was the discovery of a shark graveyard on the seafloor. Scientists, led by the Museums Victoria Research Institute, made the surprising discovery during the final trawl survey of the voyage at a depth of 5400 m. The trawl brought up more than 750 mineralised (fossilized) shark teeth representing a range of predatory species.

Curator of Fishes at the Western Australian Museum, Glenn Moore is on the underway voyage and said the shark teeth came from an interesting mix of modern and ancient sharks.

“The teeth look to come from modern sharks, such as mako and white sharks, but also from ancient sharks including the immediate ancestor of the giant megalodon shark,” said Dr. Moore.

“This shark evolved into the megalodon, which was the largest of all sharks but died out about 3.5 million years ago,” he said.

The megalodon was considered one of most powerful predators ever to have lived but is only known from fragmentary remains, such as its teeth. Its appearance and maximum size are still uncertain. The teeth collected here are likely from its closest relative, a shark which grew to over 12m long.

Dr. Moore said that it was astounding that such a large number of teeth were collected from a relatively small area on the seafloor.

“We’ve also found a few mako and white shark teeth during the underway voyage but nothing like the numbers found during the previous voyage. It’s incredible to think we’ve collected all these teeth in a net from the seafloor some 4 to 5 km below the ocean surface,” Dr. Moore said.

The discoveries emphasize the importance of marine biodiversity survey voyages and the significant contribution they make to better understanding the life in our oceans.

“From small, new, bottom-dwelling sharks, to massive ancient mega-sharks that once roamed the oceans, these biodiversity surveys give us vital insights into the life in our oceans,” Dr. Keesing said.

Parks Australia Head of Division, Jason Mundy said the learnings will help Parks Australia to manage the remote marine parks, now and into the future.

“It shows there is more to learn about our 60 Australian Marine Parks, especially those in deep and difficult to access environments. This is made possible through partnerships with research organizations and universities,” Mr Mundy said.

RV Investigator will continue surveying the Gascoyne Marine Park, as well as the nearby Carnarvon Canyon Marine Park, until mid-December and then end its voyage in Fremantle.

Provided by CSIRO

Citation: Scientists discover shark graveyard at the bottom of the ocean (2022, December 7) retrieved 7 December 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-scientists-shark-graveyard-bottom-ocean.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

TECH NEWS RELATED

TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

TikTok is one of the most popular social networks out there. But TikTok is also a cause of concern for western governments that worry about the company’s ties to the Chinese government. TikTok can’t run on most devices the US government issues, and there has been talk of a ...

View more: TikTok EU ban on the table if social network doesn’t comply with new laws

Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Samsung Display via The Verge The world of foldable phones is surprisingly stagnant. The Galaxy Z Fold gets a tiny little upgrade every year, and rival phone brands loosely copy Samsung’s homework. But a new Samsung Display prototype called the “Flex In & Out” could turn this narrative on ...

View more: Don’t Buy a Foldable Until Samsung Brings This Prototype to Life

Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Cutting the cord on cable television is something tons of people have done over the past five years. But that hasn’t proven to be the smartest way to continue to watch sports. Whether it comes from premium sports website subscriptions to keep tabs on your favorite players, or even fantasy ...

View more: Best free sports streaming apps in 2023

Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

The first MCU Phase 5 movie will be Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third installment in the Ant-Man franchise and a film with much higher stakes than the previous episodes. The sequel will deliver the MCU’s first Kang (Jonathan Majors) villain after we met a somewhat good He Who ...

View more: Avengers 5 might have Ant-Man in it, Quantumania star teases

Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

DANIEL CONSTANTE/Shutterstock.com Netflix is about to get serious in its efforts to eliminate freeloaders. If you share a Netflix account with family or friends outside your household, get ready to pay for it. A new “paid sharing” system could roll out starting next month, and you’ll have to pay a ...

View more: Sharing a Netflix Account? Get Ready to Pay For It

‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

Asmodee and Repos Production Board game lovers have a wonderful reason to celebrate today. Board game makers Asmodee and Repos Production announced their latest collaboration: 7 Wonders Edifice, an expansion to the popular board game 7 Wonders. The game launches on February 24th for $29.99. 7 Wonders: Edifice adds ...

View more: ‘7 Wonders’ Board Game Gets a New ‘Edifice’ Expansion

T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

r.classen / Shutterstock.com In a press release, T-Mobile confirms that it detected a data breach in its systems on January 5th. A “bad actor” managed to steal personal information (but not financial data) from around 37 million customers. This is the eighth T-Mobile data breach since 2018. The hacker ...

View more: T-Mobile Kicks Off 2023 With Another Data Breach

Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Apple has filed an appeal against the UK’s competition watchdog regarding its dominance of mobile browsers in the cloud gaming market, reports Reuters. The Competition and Markets Authority started investigating this dominance by the Cupertino firm and Google. Lawyers representing Apple believe the investigation should be reviewed as CMA ...

View more: Apple appeals to UK competition watchdog investigation about mobile browser dominance

Galaxy S23 Ultra release date and specs leak finally reveals everything about the new model

WhatsApp for iOS rolling out the ability to create a chat with yourself

Amazon Prime Music Unlimited changes streaming prices, now matches Apple Music

Deadpool 3 and Secret Wars to feature Fox’s X-Men, according to Marvel insider

Report: OLED iPad Pro still on track for 2024 release, 2026 for MacBook Pro

How to negotiate over practically anything

HomePod 2 praised in exclusive hands-on before launch

M2 Pro MacBook Pro Amazon preorder deal gives you $50 off

What “choice” means for millions of women post-Roe

Singapore FinTech firm Pilon secures $5.2M seed funding led by Wavemaker Partners

Capital Square Partners and Basil Technology team up for $700M tech fund in Asia

This feel-good movie about man’s best friend is dominating Netflix

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News