- A person was browsing in 1994 when one thing bit him and left him with lacerations and joint injury.
- The person nonetheless did not know what bit him all these years later.
- There was a fraction of tooth left in his physique all these years that began to floor on his foot like a blister.
- As soon as he eliminated the fragment he took it to get a DNA evaluation to find out what bit him 24 years in the past.
- It turned out to be a blacktip shark.
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In 1994, Jeff Weakley was paddling on a surfboard off Florida’s Flagler Seashore when a shark bit his foot, leaving him with lacerations and joint injury. On the time, he did not know what sort of creature had latched onto him from behind, however he does 1 / 4 of a century later, due to evaluation of DNA from a tooth fragment left buried in his physique all these years.
Weakley discovered the tiny little bit of tooth after recognizing a blister-like bulge in his proper foot and digging in with a pair of tweezers final summer time. At first he deliberate to show the dental detritus right into a pendant, however then he heard scientists from the Florida Museum of Pure Historical past had used DNA from a tooth left in a newer shark assault sufferer to find out the perpetrator’s id.
He was in.
“I was … a little bit hesitant to send the tooth in because for a minute I thought they would come back and tell me I’d been bitten by a mackerel or a houndfish — something really humiliating,” Weakley, editor of Florida Sportsman journal, joked in a press release.
At first, the scientists did not suppose they’d be capable to extract viable DNA from a tooth that had been hiding in Weakley’s foot for so long as Justin Bieber’s been alive. However after rigorously cleansing the tooth of contaminants, eradicating a part of its enamel and scraping pulp tissue from the cavity, they have been in a position to determine the attacker as a blacktip.
Blacktip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus, are frequent to coastal tropical and subtropical waters, and although they do not hunt people, they’re often chargeable for bites in Florida attributable to instances of mistaken id. The researchers element their findings within the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.
“It is surprising that the shark’s DNA would persist intact for such a long period of time at mammalian physiological temperatures and in the presence of enzymes and an immune system optimized to target and break down foreign tissue,” the examine says.
Whereas shark assaults are uncommon, they’ve lengthy been the topic of fascination, thanks in no small half to motion pictures like Jaws. Researcher Lei Yang of the Florida Program for Shark Research, which focuses on biodiversity and conservation, says he understands Weakley’s curiosity. “If I was bitten by a shark, I would want to know what it was,” he mentioned.
However the DNA discovery does greater than fulfill questioning minds, in accordance with the scientists. It contributes to the understanding of shark bites and will assist stop them.
“The aftermath of an attack has the potential to influence public attitudes toward sharks and policy decisions surrounding shark attack mitigation and conservation,” the examine says.
In the meantime, Weakley, who was 21 and an skilled surfer on the time of the assault, nonetheless surfs weekly.
“I certainly don’t have a hatred of sharks or any feeling of vindictiveness toward them,” he mentioned. “They’re part of our natural world.”