Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 4, pp 829–836 | Cite as

Cryptic hammerhead shark lineage occurrence in the western South Atlantic revealed by DNA analysis

  • D. Pinhal
  • M. S. Shivji
  • M. Vallinoto
  • D. D. Chapman
  • O. B. F. Gadig
  • C. Martins
Original Paper


A cryptic lineage of hammerhead shark closely related to but evolutionarily distinct from the scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini) was recently documented in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Here, we demonstrate using nuclear and mitochondrial DNA sequences that this cryptic lineage also occurs in the western South Atlantic Ocean, extending its distribution >7,000 km from its only previously reported location. Our results also further validate the existence of this evolutionarily distinct hammerhead shark lineage. The southern hemisphere cryptic individuals were 1.6 and 5.8% divergent from S. lewini (sensu stricto) for the nuclear internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) and mitochondrial control region loci, respectively, and formed a strongly supported, reciprocally monophyletic sister group to sympatric S. lewini. Coalescent analysis (ITS2 locus) yielded a divergence estimate of ~4.5 million years between S. lewini and the cryptic lineage. Given expanding concerns about overfishing of the large-bodied hammerhead sharks, this cryptic lineage needs to be formally recognized and incorporated into shark management and conservation planning to avoid the inadvertent, potential extirpation of a unique hammerhead lineage.


Sensu Stricto Mitochondrial Control Region Hammerhead Shark Cryptic Lineage Scalloped Hammerhead 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by grants to DP and CM from State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) and grants from the Save Our Seas Foundation and Hai Stiftung and operational support from the Guy Harvey Research Institute to MSS. We thank D. Sodré, C. Testerman, R. Horn and A. Bernard for their advice regarding laboratory work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Pinhal
    • 1
  • M. S. Shivji
    • 2
  • M. Vallinoto
    • 3
    • 4
  • D. D. Chapman
    • 5
  • O. B. F. Gadig
    • 6
  • C. Martins
    • 7
  1. 1.Departamento de Genética, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Estadual Paulista, UNESPBotucatuBrazil
  2. 2.Save Our Seas Shark Center and Guy Harvey Research InstituteNova Southeastern UniversityDania BeachUSA
  3. 3.IECOSUniversidade Federal do Pará, UFPABragançaBrazil
  4. 4.CIBIO/UP, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos da Universidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  5. 5.School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and Institute for Ocean Conservation ScienceStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA
  6. 6.Laboratório de Pesquisa em Elasmobrânquios, Campus Experimental do Litoral PaulistaUniversidade Estadual Paulista, UNESPSão VicenteBrazil
  7. 7.Departamento de Morfologia, Instituto de BiociênciasUniversidade Estadual Paulista, UNESPBotucatuBrazil

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