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Page last updated at 08:13 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 09:13 UK

Shark mystery solved: why threshers have huge tails

The mystery of why thresher sharks have such huge tails has finally be solved.

For years, biologists have been unsure why thresher sharks uniquely sport tails that can grow as long as the shark's body.

Now video footage captured by Dr Chugey Sepulveda and colleagues at The Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research in Oceanside, California, US has confirmed their true function: thresher sharks use their huge tails to swat and stun much smaller prey fish.

The discovery explains why thresher sharks are often caught by their tails by baited long-line fishing gear.

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