Overheard on CNN.com: Alas, no laser beams on hybrid sharks
The hybrid shark contains DNA from both the Australian blacktip shark and the common blacktip shark, researchers say.
January 2nd, 2012
06:51 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Alas, no laser beams on hybrid sharks

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

"Oh great, next thing you know sharks will be walking on land and snapping peoples heads off."
–Rick

Researchers say they've found 57 animals that are a cross between two genetically different but closely related species of shark off the coast of Australia. Scientists say it may be an indication the creatures are adapting to climate change.

Scientists: Dozens of hybrid sharks found off Australia

Climate change is a bit controversial, and it always gets people talking. Many readers said they didn't believe that climate is the reason why hybrid sharks are being found, and some found the research flawed. There were also some who defended the study.

Here's an excerpt from one discussion.

RC: "Whoa. Black-tipped sharks interbred with ... other black-tipped sharks?? What makes one a distinctive species rather than a sub-species? I'm sorry, but I'd be much more impressed with, say, a hammerhead interbreeding with a whale shark. Now that's hybridization. Honestly, most cat breeds can intermingle, most dog breeds can. None of that has anything to do with specialization or climate change, so I'm unimpressed with the sharks just getting their freak on in the natural environment. Talk to me about actual implications for the ocean ecosystem, then I'll be concerned."

Steve: "Google 'breeding barriers' when you get a chance. Species are separate when nature provides a barrier to keep the two populations separate (a mountain range, a river, an ocean, warm vs. cold, spring vs. winter etc.). Breeding barriers are evolved when the two species intermingle and the hybrid is a detriment to both species (among other reasons). So ... all North American deer can cross-breed (elk, moose, mule deer and white tails) but they maintain clearly separate species. But you can go to West Texas and see hybrid white tail and black tail deer and yet they do not simply return to one species from two. Natural hybrids are a very important indicator that something is different."

A few readers suggested that so many sharks were being hunted for their fins that the animals have been forced to find other mates.

Mikie: "Over-finning is likely the cause. Shark finning is wiping out the population of sharks, and likely sharks are having a difficult time to find mates. Hence, hybrids can be a result. This is also happening to gray whales. I'm surprised the article did not mention this."

There were also plenty of jokes about shark mating.

Frother: "Brb, going to go mate with a shark. Prepare to bow before the lethality and intelligence of my human/shark hybrid offspring, world!"

The inevitable political comparisons arrived.

Zeflik84: "Sharks' behavior seems to have changed as the result of climate change. So, sharks are smarter than Republicans."

dewed: "Well, they still feed off others, so they're still Democrats. Sorry."

Shagadelic "Austin Powers" references? Yeah, baby, yeah, we saw some of that.

kimmer: "We aren't far from nature giving us the sharks with frickin' laser beams ... excellent!"

Aaron: "Just wait until they have frickin' laser beams attached to their heads."

Some played on the idea of "hybrid" things.

Roger Ogilvy Thornhill: "You can spot the hybrid shark easily: It has two orange stickers on the back that say it's okay to use the carpool lane."

Finally, a couple of readers expressed their fear of the Megalodon, a giant ancient shark.

disagreement: "Just wait until the megalodons come back and start mating with the clownfish. Giant, lightning-fast clown colored destruction. God help us."

On that note, we welcome your shark opinions and snarky jokes. Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Animals • Climate change • Environment • Overheard on CNN.com • Science • Sharks
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. Amber

    Its true that there are many hybrids but most are man made. Natural hybrids is far more out there. Its vare rare for that to happen and most of the time it happens because of some human involvement but to happen with out human involvement its vary frightening. A hybrid is more of a cross breed between two closely related species but are not of the same group as one another like the Liger. The two cats are closely related but are not of the same classifacation, there for it is truely a hybrid. Most hybrids are born sterial.

    January 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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