Ancient mini-sharks lived longer than thought

October 29, 2013
This image provided by scientific magazine "Nature" on October 29, 2013, shows an illustration of a reconstitution of the falcatid shark, one of the three cladodontomorph shark species discovered, in the depths of an ocean

A line of mini-sharks thought to have perished in Earth's "Great Dying" event some 250 million years ago, in fact lived another 120 million years, said researchers Tuesday who found samples of their miniscule fossil teeth.

The strange creature, which measured no more than 30 centimetres (12 inches) in length and likely sported a hook-like protrusion in place of a dorsal fin, may have survived the calamity by hiding away in the deep seas, the research team wrote in the journal Nature Communications.

The planet's worst wiped out about 95 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species at the end of the Permian period, when Earth was believed to have had a single continent surrounded by a single ocean.

Theories for the cause of the catastrophe include an asteroid impact that smothered the planet in dust which obscured the Sun and shrivelled vegetation, or a fierce period of vulcanism that caused a lethal mixture of acid rain and global warming.

Among the creatures thought to have disappeared were Cladodontomorph , distant cousins of modern sharks, which sported jaws with several rows of tiny, sharp teeth.

But now a team from Geneva's Natural History Museum and France's Montpellier University uncovered six such teeth in sediment near the southern French town of Montpellier from the early Cretaceous period, when the area would have been under water.

The teeth, less than 2 millimetres in size, were from three different Cladodontomorph species, now extinct, which lived about 135 million years ago.

"Our finding shows that this lineage survived mass extinctions most likely by... using deep-sea refuge environments during catastrophic events," said the study.

Explore further: Teeny teeth indicate ancient shark nurseries

Related Stories

Teeny teeth indicate ancient shark nurseries

September 13, 2011

Fuelled by Hollywood and its vision of Jaws, sharks conjure images of fearsome predators patrolling our seas in search of their next unfortunate victim. It is therefore hard to imagine sharks as relatively small, harmless ...

Fish fossil yields jaw-dropping data on Man's past

September 25, 2013

The ancestor of all creatures with jaws and a backbone was not a sleek, shark-like beast but a toothless, armoured fish, said a study Wednesday that rewrites Man's evolutionary history.

Recommended for you

The couple who Facebooks together, stays together

July 27, 2015

Becoming "Facebook official" is a milestone in modern romance, and new research suggests that activities on the popular social networking site are connected to whether those relationships last.

Oldest known Koran text fragments discovered

July 23, 2015

Two pages of text written on parchment that are believed to be sections of the Koran (Chapters 18 and 20) have been discovered by a PhD student in a British university library and are believed to be the oldest ever found. ...

First evidence of farming in Mideast

July 22, 2015

Until now, researchers believed farming was "invented" some 12,000 years ago in the Cradle of Civilization—Iraq, the Levant, parts of Turkey and Iran—an area that was home to some of the earliest known human civilizations. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.