Scientists have identified four new species of walking shark in the waters off Australia and New Guinea. While that might sound like the stuff of horror films, researchers say that the foot-long fish, which have evolved to use their fins to walk on land or in shallow water, are actually adorable.
According to Mark Erdmann, a coral reef ecologist at the California Academy of Sciences, these sharks look “more like a gecko walking around than a shark.” Erdmann was part of a team of scientists who spent 12 years studying the walking sharks. Their efforts, published in Marine and Freshwater Research Tuesday, nearly doubled the number of known species, raising it from five to nine.
The walking sharks all belong to the genus Hemiscyllium, a group of sharks that evolved to succeed in their unique coral reef environment and hunt during low tides. Curious to see these intriguing sharks for yourself? Look no further.