Scientists have already determined that terrestrial megafauna disappeared or more exactly went extinct during the last ice age. However, they were still unsure what led to the loss of the marine megafauna such as the Megalodon or the largest shark ever detected.
Research on the matter was carried out by University of Zurich Paleontological Institute and Museum scientists led by Catalina Pimiento.
The Largest Shark Disappeared During an Undetected Mass Extinction
As part of their study, the team analyzed a series of marine fossils which dated as being from the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Namely, they were 5.3 million to 9,700 years B.C.
“We were able to show that around a third of marine megafauna disappeared about three to two million years ago,” stated Pimiento.
She then continued by stating that, most probably, humans inherited an already modified marine megafauna community. One that could have been functioning at “a diminished diversity”.
The disappearance is believed to have taken place during an unrecognized global extinction event. This is also thought to have provoked the reduction in diversity. Fossil analyses present a 55 percent decline in biodiversity.
The shark diversity fell by some 9 percent while the bird one declined by 35 percent. Turtle species were reduced by 43 percent.
Pimiento said that models indicate that warm-blooded animals would have been more likely to become extinct. She offers the largest shark ever, the Carcharocles megalodon, as an example. The research team also points out the most likely disappearance of baleen whales and sea cow species as well.
The research team stated that their study showed the higher than believed vulnerability of the marine megafauna. These appear to have been much more at risk from the changes in the global environment than expected. Or to the global variations in the more recent geological past than previously assumed.
Study results are available in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.
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