Shark Diversity Unaffected When the Dinosaurs Were Wiped Out in Global Catastrophe

Selective extinction of apex predators suggests a shift to more generalist diets.

A global catastrophe 66 million years ago led to the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs, and large marine reptiles like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs. But what happened to the sharks? According to a study of sharks’ teeth publishing August 10th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Mohamad Bazzi of Uppsala University and colleagues, shark-tooth diversity remained relatively constant across the mass extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous.

The researchers analyzed the morphology of 1239 fossil shark teeth, including species in eight existing orders and one now-extinct order. The teeth span a 27-million-year period from the late Cretaceous 83.6 million years ago to the early Paleogene 56 million years ago, across the so-called K-Pg boundary that brought the age of the dinosaurs to an end.

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