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Study: sharks are not living fossils

Modern sharks are not "living fossil" replicas of their prehistoric ancestors but have evolved significantly over millions of years to develop their hallmark design, according to a new study.

The skull of a newly discovered 325-million-year-old shark-like species suggests that early cartilaginous and bony fishes have more to tell us about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates — including humans — than do modern sharks, as was previously thought.

"Scientists, and the public, have long thought that today's sharks are 'living fossils' — a group of animals that appeared a long time ago and hardly changed," study lead author Alan Pradel of the American Museum of Natural History.

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