Study: sharks are not living fossils

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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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