Bonnethead Shark

Grass eating shark found, according to Science (AAAS) News 7 January 2018 and Sci-News 9 January 2018.

The bonnethead shark is a small coastal dwelling shark that forages for food amongst the seagrass meadows along the coasts of southern USA and the Gulf of Mexico. In 2007 environmental scientists examined the stomach contents of bonnethead sharks in the Gulf of Mexico and found they contained large amounts of seagrass along with the expected fishy food. No-one knew if the seagrass had just been swallowed accidently while the sharks foraged for crabs and shrimps that live amongst the grass, or if they were deliberately eating grass and digesting it.

A decade later another group of scientists have put the sharks to the test. They kept several sharks in an aquarium at Florida International University and fed them a diet consisting of 90% seagrass and 10% squid. The sharks all gained weight and appeared to thrive on this mostly vegetarian diet. As sharks are traditionally considered to be apex predators living on a strict carnivorous diet it had been assumed they lacked the digestive enzymes needed to break down cellulose and extract nutrients from plant foods. However, the Florida researchers found the sharks did have an enzyme that breaks down cellulose in their guts.

To test whether the sharks were extracting and absorbing nutrients from the grasses the researchers grew the grasses in a separate tank enriched with Carbon 13 (13C), an isotope of carbon, before feeding it to the sharks. After the sharks had eaten the 13C enriched grass the researchers found 13C in the sharks’ blood, indicating the sharks had digested and absorbed nutrients from the grass.

Samantha Leigh, one of the scientists, commented: “While in the wild bonnet head sharks would likely eat less than 90% seagrass, the ability to thrive on such a high plant diet is further support for their ability to obtain nutrients from seagrass”.

Science, Sci-News

Editorial Comment: Hey, perhaps you have never thought that Adam could have ridden his surfboard in the Eden’s big pond with no fear of the big vegan shark? This study is a reminder that all animals were originally created to live on a plant diet. Any creature that lost the ability to digest cellulose suffers from a limit in what it can eat, but it would still be possible to move to a diet of fruits and seeds, or even meat. The reason some animals eat a mixture of plant and animal matter is the result of degeneration, not evolution.

In the original very good world God created there would have been abundant nutritious plant food for animals, including, in the sea, seagrasses and seaweed. Seagrasses are different to seaweeds. They are underwater based flowering plants that grow like land plants. Many animals that live on exclusively vegetarian diet have microbes in their digestive systems that help break down plant food, and this symbiotic relationship was probably the norm for most animals.

After Noah’s flood the environment was devastated and plant foods became less abundant and less nutritious in many places. Animals took to eating whatever was available, including other animals, in order to survive. Those that had the right kind of teeth and physical agility, as sharks do, could hunt prey, so they did. Those that lived in an environment that still had enough plant food, such as the seagrass meadows that grow in many coastal water, continued to eat plants.

Evidence News vol. 18, No.1
14 February 2018
Creation Research Australia

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