Galician Scientists Solve the Mystery of the Marine Monster of Huelva Spain

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A Vigo team did the DNA tests for identification.

A conger, a rowing fish, some kind of shark … The confusion was huge. Speculation grew as the case spread among the public, but no one had an accurate answer. Nobody could explain to what marine species the corpse of a large marine animalthat had been found on March 7 by a young man who was walking with his dog on the beach of Islantilla (Huelva) corresponded . It was, apparently, a strange creature . Even more so because their remains were in an advanced state of decomposition . Only the spine and some pieces of rotting flesh were preserved. Some experts said at first that it was a vertebrate with tail and cartilage.

Before the astonishment, the kid himself took several photos with his mobile and contacted the Museum House of Science of Seville (CSIC).

The reaction of amazement among the experts was the same as the boy had experienced before . Immediately, the professionals contacted other CSIC colleagues in Andalusia, both ichthyologists and biologists, in search of an answer. They did not find it either.

The intrigue increased as the case became popular , which led the Junta de Andalucía itself, through an official tweet, to ask itself the big question: what will this vertebrate be that the marine ichthyologists and biologists of the CSIC have not known to recognize at a glance?

It was then that the Andalusian researchers of the CSIC decided to ask for help from their colleague at the Mariñas Research Institute of Vigo Rafael Bañón, probably one of the world’s leading experts in the identification of marine species and who now works at the Xunta, in the Consellería de Fishing, where it has resumed its contractual link. He asked that six samples be sent from inside the corpse to perform a DNA test.

It was an amalgamation

From that moment on, some of the usual Bañón collaborators: Alejandro de Carlos and David Barros, from the Department of Biochemistry, Xenética y Inmunología of the University of Vigo, and Ángel Sebastián Comesaña, from the Scientific and Technological Support Center a Research (Cacti), from the same academic institution. In just two days the mystery was solved. The decomposing and decaying skeleton belonged to a peregrine shark, one of the great marine giants, but totally harmless. There was no doubt.

“It was very big and we already suspected that it could be a pilgrim, but it had to be confirmed”

” For us, performing a DNA test of this type is routine, but we were very excited to participate in this work, because we contributed to solve a mystery, ” explains Angel Comesaña, who is not surprised that ichthyologists It was difficult to identify the species, although some already pointed to the possibility that it was a peregrine fish. “The truth,” he says, “is that it was not a skeleton in the usual way . It was an amalgam of things and nothing was clear. “

Galician Scientists Solve the Mystery of the Marine Monster of Huelva Spain

DNA extraction was carried out by Alejandro de Carlos’ team, who amplified the samples to identify a mitochondrial gene, cytochrome oxidase I, which is a sort of bar code for the identification of marine species. Ángel Comesaña was employed and the results were compared with international databases.

“Among friends we suspected that it was a peregrine shark, because it was very large and could not be a whale because it had cartilage. But you had to confirm it with DNA, “explains Rafael Bañón .


Source: la voz de galicia