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Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday November 5, 2013 MYT 8:32:11 AM
A reconstitution of the falcatid shark, one of the three cladodontomorph shark species discovered. The shark is believed to have survived the Permian mass extinction some 350 million years ago and lived for several million more years.
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 who found samples of their minuscule fossil teeth.
The strange creature, which measured no more than 30cm 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 mass extinction wiped out about 95% of marine species and 70% 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 vege-
tation, 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 sharks, distant cousins of modern sharks which sported jaws with several rows of tiny, sharp teeth.
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 2mm in size, were from three different Cladodontomorph species, now extinct, which lived about 135 million years ago.
“This lineage survived mass extinctions most likely by ... using deep-sea refuge ... during catastrophic events,” said the study. – AFP
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Science & Technology, Science, palaeontology, mini-shark, Cladodontomorph
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