Ancient shark discovery may rewrite our evolutionary history

Sharks are often seen as “living fossils,” examples of evolutionary excellence that have not altered their design significantly since they came into existence. Evolutionary biologists have theorized specifically that the creatures’ respiratory systems, fed by efficient gills, were present in the species since they first diverged on Earth more than 400 million years ago. But researchers have recently discovered a fossil record that appears to refute that theory.

A study of the 325 million year old “shark-like” creature, published in scientific journal Nature, suggests that ancient sharks might have developed their gills after bony fish did. The authors of the study say the fossil, which represents the earliest identified cartilaginous…

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