Columbia, S.C. Scientists have discovered a species of hammerhead shark off the South Carolina coast, making it the ninth known species of the distinctively shaped predators. The shark, which the researchers are calling the "cryptic species," is thought to be at risk of extinction because it may exist only off the South Carolina coast. University of South Carolina biologist Joe Quattro, along with Jim Grady of the University of New Orleans and Trey Driggers at the National Marine Fisheries Service, discovered the species.
While studying scalloped hammerheads, Quattro noticed that genes in the cryptic sharks' mitochondrial DNA differed from those of other sharks that appeared to be otherwise the same. Further studies revealed another genetic marker that differentiated the two groups of scalloped hammerheads. In the summer, Quattro will tag the sharks to determine where they go once they leave South Carolina waters.