Scientists documented a Papuan species of epaulette shark “walking” for the first time in May.
Footage of the rare phenomenon was released as part of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week show called “Island of the Walking Sharks,” a portion of which was shared by WGN News. Video of the shark quite literally walking on a reef was captured in Papua New Guinea, and showed the creature using its fins to haul itself forward, according to Live Science.
“This is the first time in history one of the Papuan species of epaulettes has been documented walking,” conservationist and biologist Forrest Galante reportedly said during the show. “This is so incredible.”
Researchers have hypothesized 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-scarce 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 A Man In A Zoo)
Epaulettes grow to roughly 1 meter in length and live in shallow coral reef environments, where they hunt for crabs and other invertebrates, according to the outlet. They will hang out in tide pools as the ocean recedes “but once they’re done, they’re trapped,” Director of Florida Program for Shark Research at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gavin Naylor, told the outlet.
“What epaulettes have learned to do is climb up in the reef and plop themselves in the next tide pool,” he said.