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The fossil record of extant elasmobranchs


Paillard, Adele; Shimada, Kenshu; Pimiento, Catalina (2021). The fossil record of extant elasmobranchs. Journal of Fish Biology, 98(2):445-455.

Abstract

Sharks and their relatives (Elasmobranchii) are highly threatened with extinction due to various anthropogenic pressures. The abundant fossil record of fossil taxa has allowed the tracing of the evolutionary history of modern elasmobranchs to at least 250 MYA; nonetheless, exactly how far back the fossil record of living taxa goes has never been collectively surveyed. In this study, the authors assess the representation and extent of the fossil record of elasmobranchs currently living in our oceans by collecting their oldest records and quantifying first appearance dates at different taxonomic levels (i.e., orders, families, genera and species), ecological traits (e.g., body size, habitat and feeding mechanism) and extinction risks (i.e., threatened, not threatened and data deficient). The results of this study confirm the robust representation of higher taxonomic ranks, with all orders, most of the families and over half of the extant genera having a fossil record. Further, they reveal that 10% of the current global species diversity is represented in the geological past. Sharks are better represented and extend deeper in time than rays and skates. While the fossil record of extant genera (e.g., the six gill sharks, Hexanchus) goes as far back as c. 190 MYA, the fossil record of extant species (e.g., the sand shark, Carcharias taurus Rafinesque1810) extends c. 66 MYA. Although no significant differences were found in the extent of the fossil record between ecological traits, it was found that the currently threatened species have a significantly older fossil record than the not threatened species. This study demonstrate that the fossil record of extant elasmobranchs extends deep into the geologic time, especially in the case of threatened sharks. As such, the elasmobranch geological history has great potential to advance the understanding of how species currently facing extinction have responded to different stressors in the past, thereby providing a deep-time perspective to conservation.

Abstract

Sharks and their relatives (Elasmobranchii) are highly threatened with extinction due to various anthropogenic pressures. The abundant fossil record of fossil taxa has allowed the tracing of the evolutionary history of modern elasmobranchs to at least 250 MYA; nonetheless, exactly how far back the fossil record of living taxa goes has never been collectively surveyed. In this study, the authors assess the representation and extent of the fossil record of elasmobranchs currently living in our oceans by collecting their oldest records and quantifying first appearance dates at different taxonomic levels (i.e., orders, families, genera and species), ecological traits (e.g., body size, habitat and feeding mechanism) and extinction risks (i.e., threatened, not threatened and data deficient). The results of this study confirm the robust representation of higher taxonomic ranks, with all orders, most of the families and over half of the extant genera having a fossil record. Further, they reveal that 10% of the current global species diversity is represented in the geological past. Sharks are better represented and extend deeper in time than rays and skates. While the fossil record of extant genera (e.g., the six gill sharks, Hexanchus) goes as far back as c. 190 MYA, the fossil record of extant species (e.g., the sand shark, Carcharias taurus Rafinesque1810) extends c. 66 MYA. Although no significant differences were found in the extent of the fossil record between ecological traits, it was found that the currently threatened species have a significantly older fossil record than the not threatened species. This study demonstrate that the fossil record of extant elasmobranchs extends deep into the geologic time, especially in the case of threatened sharks. As such, the elasmobranch geological history has great potential to advance the understanding of how species currently facing extinction have responded to different stressors in the past, thereby providing a deep-time perspective to conservation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Paleontological Institute and Museum
Dewey Decimal Classification:560 Fossils & prehistoric life
Uncontrolled Keywords:Aquatic Science, Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Language:English
Date:1 February 2021
Deposited On:03 Nov 2020 14:00
Last Modified:28 Feb 2021 08:01
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0022-1112
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14588

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