photo: Brandon Fick/Creative Commons
Some really interesting research in Proceedings of the Royal Society B highlighted by BBC News: Scientists have determined that the great white sharks living in the Mediterranean are more closely related to those living around Australia and New Zealand than there are to those living in the Atlantic Ocean. That determination was made by examining great white's mitochondrial DNA, changes in which indicate that the Mediterranean sharks split from those in Australia about 450,000 years ago.
As for why the sharks may have made the great journey, the researchers speculate that because of the changes in currents taking place at the time--it was in between ice ages and there were many climatic changes underway--strong, warmer currents may have pushed the Australian sharks far off their normal course and up the western coast of Africa.
BBC quotes lead researcher Dr Les Noble:
They might have gone a considerable way up there before the warmth ran out. Then they start trying to turn east and north and the first place you can go east, of course, is the Straits of Gibraltar.
Read more: BBC News and (really great title in the original study...) Antipodean white sharks on a Mediterranean walkabout? Historical dispersal leads to genetic discontinuity and an endangered anomalous population
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