Thursday, May 26

Photos: Squatina mapama, the new species of angel shark found in Panama

The shark species was found during two expeditions carried out in 2010 and 2011.

Photo: Ross Robertson / EFE

A new species of angel shark discovered in the Caribbean of Panama was named Squatina mapama in honor of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) of Spain, reported the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

The species was found during two expeditions carried out in 2010 and 2011, and was described and named in a new paper, co-authored by Smithsonian scientist Ross Robertson, published December 29 in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.

The new species of angel shark was named Squatina mapama. (Photo: Ross Robertson/EFE)

The two research expeditions were sponsored by the MAPA of Spain, among others, the Smithsonian confirmed to Efe. Their objective was to explore the biodiversity of benthic organisms, that is, those that live at the bottom of the ocean, on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Central America.

“Yes. mapama (named after the Spanish Government’s fisheries organization) looks a lot like another species that lives in the same part of the Caribbean and is also found in Panama: Squatina david. However, aside from a number of subtle physical differences between them, genetic analyzes helped establish them as a separate and distinct species from other New World angel sharks,” the Smithsonian said in a statement.

Distinctive characters of S. mapama include a broader pectoral and pelvic fins, a shorter head length, a narrower mouth, short fringed nostrils and barbels, a few large denticles on the top of the head, and the presence of scattered smaller spots on males, among others, according to scientific description.

New species of angel shark discovered in the Caribbean of Panama. (Photo: Ross Robertson/EFE)

In reference to one of the distinctive characteristics of S. mapama, a short, narrow line of small dermal scales or denticles, the authors suggested giving this new species the common name of “small crested angel shark, explained the Smithsonian.

The small crested angel shark is the fourth new species of Squatina identified in the western Atlantic in the last decade, and although the total number of species of the genus has not been established with certainty, this study reveals the forensic value of genetic analyzes to understand the true biological diversity of a genus with several cryptic species or those that have very similar appearances. similar,” he added.

Many species of angel sharks are in danger of extinction, in the opinion of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said the Smithsonian, which specified that the genus Squatina probably dates back to the Cretaceous period, approximately 145 to 66 million years ago.

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