NS> Vol.5 No.11, November 2013

Evolution of white and megatooth sharks, and evidence for early predation on seals, sirenians, and whales

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ABSTRACT

The early white shark Carcharodon Smith, 1838 with the fossil Carcharodon auriculatus (Blainville, 1818) and the extinct megatooth shark Otodus Agassiz, 1843 with species Otodus sokolovi (Jaeckel, 1895) were both present in the European proto North Sea Basin about 47.8 - 41.3 m.y. ago (Lutetian, early Middle Eocene), as well as in the Tethys realm around the Afican-Eurasian shallow marine habitats. Both top predators developed to be polyphyletic, with possible two different lamnid shark ancestors within the Early Paleocene to Early Eocene timespan with Carcharodon (white shark line-age) and Otodus (megatooth shark lineage). Their sawblade teeth developed during the early Paleogene as the result of adaptation to feeding on various marine new rising mammals, coinciding with three main waves of evolutionary emergence of seals, sirenians, and whales in parallel with the evolution of these large predatory sharks. Megatooth sharks specialized in hunting whales and sirenians only on the coastal shelves of warm oceans and disappeared globally in the Pleistocene due to climate change and ocean cooling. The cold-water adapted early white sharks have survived until the present day with body temperate change adaptation in warm to temperate oceans and are proposed to have specialized on coastal seal hunting already50 m.y. ago.

Cite this paper

Diedrich, C. (2013) Evolution of white and megatooth sharks, and evidence for early predation on seals, sirenians, and whales. Natural Science, 5, 1203-1218. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.511148.

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