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article imageAncient sharks may have survived the 'great extinction'

By Tim Sandle     Nov 1, 2013 in Environment
A new fossil find suggests that some ancient sharks may have survived a mass extinction event 350 million years ago (sometimes referred to as 'the Great Dying').
The Great Dying is a term to describe the event marked the end of the Permian and the beginning of the Triassic geologic periods and probably wiped out many fish groups. Scientists have suggested many possible causes for this "Great Dying": severe volcanism, a nearby supernova, environmental changes wrought by the formation of a super-continent, the devastating impact of a large asteroid -- or some combination of these.
This catastrophe -- marked as the Permian/Triassic boundary -- occurred about 250 million years ago. It had been thought by some researchers that this led to the extinction of ancient sharks.
However, fossil teeth and other relics found in a region of southern France covered by a deep ocean roughly 135 million years ago suggest that some now-extinct sharks probably swam down into deep-sea hideouts to survive the extinction event. Fossils from these deep-sea refuges may harbor even more information about how ancient fishes evolved.
The new findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications. The paper is titled "Cretaceous stem chondrichthyans survived the end-Permian mass extinction."
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