liver Shark pups feed off their own livers In order to survive until it becomes a skilled hunter, a shark pups is born with an enlarged “super liver” that functions as a food source for several months.

This new finding have surprised marine scientists, because shark pups were believed to suffer from a high mortality rate because they had to find food immediately after being born.

They’re much more likely to survive when they’re born than we previously thought,” says Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher Aaron MacNeil.

Unlike live-bearing sea mammals like dolphins and whales, live-bearing shark mothers do not produce milk for their offspring. Until know, researchers assumed that the shark mothers didn’t invest much energy into keeping the offspring alive once it was born, but the new finding changes this perception radically. The shark mother is effectively sending her young off with a liver so packed with energy and nutrients that it keeps the baby fed for several months.

It is likely that the liver reserves enable the newborn sharks to acclimatize themselves to their environment and to develop their foraging skills,” says lead researcher Nigel Hussey, “We know that large sharks use their livers as an energy store, but we had no idea that the mother provisions her young with additional liver reserves to enhance their survival.”

The research that led to the discovery was carried out by an international team of researchers headed by the Bangor University in Wales.