Scientists documented a Papuan species of “walking” epaulette shark for the first time in May.
Footage of the rare phenomenon aired on the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week show ‘Island of the Walking Sharks’, part of which was shared by WGN News. Video of the shark literally walking across a reef was captured in Papua New Guinea and showed the creature using its fins to pull itself forward, according to Live Science.
“This is the first time in history that any of the Papuan epaulette species have been documented walking,” conservationist and biologist Forrest Galante reportedly said on the show. “It’s so amazing.”
The researchers speculated that the species evolved to be able to walk on land for up to an hour because it helped them find food where other sharks couldn’t survive, Live Science reported. They can survive in oxygen-poor environments for up to an hour, a trait that may only be 9 million years old, according to the outlet. (RELATED: Crazy video shows orangutan attacking man in zoo)
Epaulettes reach around 1 meter in length and live in shallow coral reef environments, where they hunt crabs and other invertebrates, according to the outlet. They’ll hang out in tidal pools as the ocean recedes “but once they’re done, they’ll be trapped,” said Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Shark Research Program at the Florida Museum of Natural. History.
“What the epaulettes have learned to do is climb up the reef and into the next tidal pool,” he said.