Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sharks more evolved than thought, fossil discovery shows

325m-year-old shark ancestor with tiny teeth and fish-like features challenges the predator’s ‘living fossils’ status

theguardian.com, Thursday 17 April 2014 06.01 BST

Sharks’ long-held status as primeval “living fossils” unchanged since before the time of dinosaurs has been challenged by a new fossil discovery which suggests the creatures have modernised far more than previously thought.

Findings by US researchers, published in Nature, describe the discovery of 325m-year-old fossils found in the Ozark mountains in Arkansas in the US.

The fossils are of an ancient shark ancestor which was just a metre long with tiny teeth, although its bite would give you a painful nip, researchers said. The fossils are the earliest known remnants of chondrichthyans, a group which includes sharks and rays.

The ancient shark had an anatomy very different to its modern-day counterpart, looking much like an average fish.

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