A recent study described a newly discovered species found in Panama. Known as Squatina mapama, it belongs to the angel shark species collected off the Caribbean coast of Panama.

The discovery pave the way for the first recorded angel shark species from the Central American Caribbean region. according to Ross Robertson, a co-author of the new paper and a staff of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Genetic analysis helped identify Squatina mapama as a separate and new angel shark species of the genus, Squatina, from the Western Atlantic Ocean. The findings was based on the article published by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Journal of the Ocean Science Foundation.

Squatina mapama was named after the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), a Spanish government fisheries organization.

The discovery dates back between 2010 and 2011, when the Spain initiated and sponsored two research expeditions in Central America’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The expeditions aimed at exploring the biodiversity of benthic organisms-marine species living on the ocean floor.

According to Science Daily, the physical characteristics of the Squatina genus are different from the conventional appearance of a shark. Memebers of the Squatina genus are flat-bodied sharks resembling stingrays.

Specifically, the Squatina mapama was described to possess “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. The complex physical features of Squatina mapama prompted researchers to conduct genetic analysis in order to identify the exact species.

The authors of the paper described Squatina mapama as “small-crested angel shark.” This is due to its short and narrow line of small scales or dermal denticles. Observation and identification of angel sharks from other individual species are difficult with the naked eye.

Squatina mapama has a strong physical resemblance to Squatina David, thus genetic analysis was required to recognize the species, according to the National Geographic.

Source: Nature World News

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