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Great white sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world.

Scary teeth. Huge size. Top predator. That’s what most people think of when they think of the great white shark. However, there is a newly discovered aspect to these notorious creatures that should be added to that list: their DNA.

Scientists have mapped great white sharks’ DNA and found that there are MUTATIONS which protect them against cancer and other illnesses. The scientists hope that this information may be translated so it can help humans.

Mahmood Shivji, the co-leader of the study, told the BBC that genome instability is important in many diseases that affect humans, such as some forms of cancer. The great white shark has developed a strategy to repair its own DNA and maintain the stability of its genomes. Great white shark DNA is one-and-a-half times bigger than human DNA, which means that there are things that their DNA can do that human DNA cannot yet do.

Sharks have been swimming in the seas for at least 16 million years and have life spans of approximately 70 years. This means they are confronted with aging issues just like humans and that they have had time to evolve in their habitat.

Scientists still have a lot of research to do and they have not yet determined whether they can apply what they’ve learned about the sharks to people. However, the researchers are hopeful that the information will provide clues on cancer treatment, wound-healing and blood-clotting.

The research was done by scientists at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Research Centre at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Great white sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world and have been known to grow to more than 20 feet in length and up to 5,000 pounds! Their powerful tails can help them reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour in the water.

These features, combined with their rows of  triangular teeth, have given them a fearsome reputation. Here’s hoping that scientists can find some helpful information through these amazing creatures of the sea.

Giant ‘Extinct’ Tortoise Dramatically Reappears!

Host Forrest Galante with his big discovery with Animal Planet.
Host Forrest Galante with his

big discovery with Animal Planet.

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, Ecuador—These Pacific islands are famous for their wildlife, especially the giant Galapagos tortoises.

When Charles Darwin first visited the islands in 1835, biologists believe there were around 15 different species of Galapagos tortoise. Some species of these slow-moving, plant-eating reptiles can live more than 150 years. One in captivity lived at least 170 years. The largest of them can grow to 5 feet long and weigh up to 550 pounds!

Believe it or not, sailors in these seas used to collect Galapagos tortoises for meat and oil, causing the population of tortoises to plummet from more than a quarter million around the 16th century to just 3,000 by the 1970s. Just 10 species were thought to remain after Lonesome George, the last of his species, died in captivity of old age in 2012. 

The largest island of the Galapagos is Isabela, which sort of cradles the island of Fernandina just west of it. The Fernandina tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus) lived there, but the last one found was a male in 1906, and scientists either killed it or discovered its remains. CONSEQUENTLY, the species was considered extinct. On a couple of occasions, bite marks on prickly pear cactus on Fernandina were discovered, along with tortoise SCAT (droppings).

So Animal Planet paid for an expedition on Fernandina for its show “Extinct or Alive.” The trekking was GRUELING, especially up around its volcano. Amazingly, the show’s host made the find of his lifetime—a very old female Fernandina tortoise hiding beneath some brush!

Host Forrest Galante announced the discovery in a Feb. 20 tweet. In a statement, he says, “As a biologist and someone who has dedicated my life to the pursuit of animals believed extinct, this is by far my greatest scientific accomplishment and proudest moment.”

The 100-year-old tortoise was collected and taken to the breeding center on Santa Cruz Island.

Edition: 
Tucson
Issue: 
March 2019