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Palaeontology: Palaeozoic sharks survived mass extinctionAdd to my bookmarks

Nature Communications

October 30, 2013

The discovery of ancient cladodontomorph shark fossils in Southern France suggests that these marine creatures survived the end-Permian mass extinction, or Great Dying, when it had been previously thought that they died out. The end-Permian mass extinction is believed to have wiped out over 90% of all marine species and around 70% of terrestrial vertebrate and this finding, published in Nature Communications, suggests that cladodontomorph shark may have survived the event by moving to deep areas of the ocean.

A major biological turnover occurred about 350 million years ago, marking the boundary between the Permian and the Triassic geologic periods. This turnover represents a mass extinction of several fish groups and cartilaginous fishes in particular, and the establishment of modern sharks. Guillaume Guinot and colleagues find a cladodontomorph shark assemblage, including several fossil teeth, in a deep sea platform of Southern France from 140-133 million years ago. Cladodontomorphs were thought to have vanished at the Permian-Triassic boundary but this finding increases the fossil record of the group by about 120 million years. The authors suggest that this shows that the cladodontomorphs survived the end-Permian mass extinction.

The researchers propose that these now extinct sharks survived the Permian-Triassic transition in deep-sea refuges during catastrophic events, and suggest that these findings illustrate how deep-sea fossils contain valuable information about the evolutionary history of ancient fishes.

DOI:10.1038/ncomms3669 | Original article

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