A new genetic study on great white shark’s hearts has found that these animals are strikingly similar to humans. More than zebrafish, in fact, which is now widely used to “study cancers, neurological diseases and blood disorders” because of their similitude to humans.
Cornell University’s professor Michael Stanhope — the lead author of the paper published in the journal BMC Genomics — found the similarities while trying to find an explanation to the unique behaviour of the mighty predator:
We were very surprised to find, that for many categories of proteins, sharks share more similarities with humans than zebrafish. […]
Sharks have many fascinating characteristics. Some give live birth to fully formed young, while some lay eggs. In some species, the embryos eat the remaining eggs or even other embryos while still developing in the uterus. Some can dive very deep, others cannot. Some stay local; others migrate across the entire ocean basins. White sharks dive deep, migrate very long distances and give live birth.
Stanhope thinks that this genetic study increased the number of markers that scientists can use “to study the population biology of great white and related sharks by a thousandfold, from which they hope to further expand knowledge of these fascinating animals, many of which are in urgent need of conservation.”