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Sand Tiger sharks have more complex social behaviour than previously thought

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In a new find, researchers have revealed that tyrant sharks are more social than previously thought. Scientists believed that the solitary sharks do not share any social relation with the other aquatic species but the new study has found very complex social networks that went unnoticed till date by the researchers.

“Higher-order decision-making processes are often associated with mammals, or species that we think of as really smart – dolphins, elephants, or chimpanzees,” said Danielle Haulsee, a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware in UK.

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Researchers tracked Sand Tiger sharks that live in coastal waters off the Eastern US and found very strange and complex relation between their movements and social behaviours. For the study, scientists tracked more than 300 Sand Tiger sharks over a time span of one year.

Study authors were astonished to see that sharks met with more than 200 tracked sharks throughout out the year. What’s striking was their fission-fusion based social behaviour where sharks split and rejoin the group based on the location and time of year.

Researchers noticed that the Sand Tiger shark remain united for some part of the year while they split into individual and solitary tyrant animals for another part of the year. While explaining, study authors said that sharks unite for several purposes including mating and searching food.

Sand Tiger sharks refrained encounter with other sharks in later winters and early springs while encountering was frequent in other parts of the years. Haulsee said that sometimes it’s beneficial to break away from the group as it becomes really hard to fulfill the food requirements due to increasing competition among mates.

Earlier this social behaviour of sharks was not known as all the previous research on the sharks was conducted in the lab. However, it is the first time that scientists have monitored the behaviour of Sand Tiger shark in the open sea.

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