Shark experts scratch heads

2004-08-24 09:15

Germany - German biologists are scratching their heads over a mysterious shark lurking in their aquarium: It does not appear to belong to any of the 405 known species of shark.

Peter Faltermeier, director of the aquarium in the southern town of Coburg, said the 70-centimetre-long female arrived in a tank of water several weeks ago from Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo, where no one had been sure either how to describe the fish.

"At first glance it looks like a nurse shark," said Faltermeier, who has written a book about sharks. "But the eyes don't swivel, the teeth are very large compared to the body size and the hairline is different."

Faltermeier said a photo showing the differences had been sent to shark experts worldwide, but none had come up with an identification. Now experts are to X-ray the fish and discover if it has unusual inner features.

If the shark still cannot be matched, it is likely that Coburg, 400 kilometres from the sea, will be the place where the world's 406th species of shark was determined. - Sapa-dpa