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The Extinction of the Worlds last "Living Fossils"

Some people wish that it would be possible to travel though time... But there is actually no need for wishing, - because You can to some extend !
Photo by Ellicia

Almost unchanged species that existed on this earth before dinosaurs - still roam the Oceans - yet the sad part is - today many of these species face extinction…

This fact, chocking as it is, puts a grand deal into perspective.

In this “Editorial” We will explore some of these “living fossils” and try to understand what drove many of these species to the edge of extinction.

At first : What is a “Living Fossil” ?

“Living fossils” is the popular term for a specie that has remained almost unchanged for millions of years.

Though the years, new species has been discovered, - species that scientists had only before seen fossilized - and they seem as if they have been kept in a time capsule, since they appear almost unchanged…

Photo by Jez Timms

There are several explanations to the evolutionary pause for these species.

To mention a few :

Some species like for instance Sharks have a brilliant “design”... Toothlike scales that breaks the water for the Apex Predators to be able to swim even faster, using less energy, to catch their prey, - teeth-changes during their lifespand in order razor sharpness for catching and consuming prey, - an almost resembling GPS system, giving coordinates for their voyages at sea - and the pros continue !...

Photo by Jonas Allert

Going Deeper …

Sharks, has been dated about 450 million years back in history. About 260 million years before dinosaurs walked this earth !

The oldest fossils belonging to Sharks, were toothlike scales that traces about 450 million years back in time.

But the first intact fossil that of a shark, is dated 400 million years back to the Devonian period - also called the "Age of Fishes.” This name is perfectly suitable for the era since there was a great progress of radiation - especially among fish (including Sharks).

Over the years there has been discovered several intact fossilized Sharks dating “about” 400 million years back. When looking at some of the fairly intact specimens like the “Cleveland Shale Shark” it is almost chocking to se the equality of this 400 million year old fossil - to modern era Sharks. The Cleveland Shale Shark, (link below) has very preserved muscle fibers and almost intact fins, that looks accurately like todays Sharks fins.

The Cleveland Shale Shark Link :

Unfortunately Shark fins, have by humans become one of the greatest reasons for Sharks being on the brink of extinction today.

Photo by Jakob Owens

To keep it short :

An estimated 100 million Sharks are killed annually, mainly because of the demand for Shark Fins. Shark Fins are used for Shark Fin Soup, a delicacy in China mainly. Historically Shark Fin Soup was served exclusively to the Emperor of China, - and over the years this exclusivity has grown into a popular show off “trend”, used at weddings, banquets, and at fancy evenings out… It is a very expensive (mercury filled) “delicacy”, - so the interest in catching Sharks to serve this market grows.

An Editorial on the Shark Fin industry will soon be shared with You on Oceans Daily.

Today about 450 different types of Sharks roam the Oceans, yet many of these species are listed as endangered. You can learn more about "Shark listings" by following the link below :

Traveling back to “Living Fossils”:

Other factors enabling some species to exist is the ability to grow old, adaptation skills and “slow living”. Take for instance the Sea Turtle and it´s main prey, Jellyfish… Two species that has been swimming side by side for millions of Years !

Photo by Connor Carruthers

A fossil was “proven evidence” that a Jellyfish had been swimming in the Ocean about 500 million Years ago - and the similarity to a modern Jellyfish was remarkable !

Jellyfish are simple, "slow living" yet highly adaptive beings and they are some of the only species thriving despite climate change. In fact, climate change creates a great environment for the Jellies to thrive. If You are interested in the Jellification phenomena, You are able to read the Editorial called “Jellification” - link below.

The most popular Jellyfish consumers are properly the Sea Turtles. Sea Turtles has also been around for quite some time… The eldest Sea Turtle fossil discovered, the “Santanachelys gaffneyi” is dated about 120 million years back - Yet the fossil showed a remarkable resemblance to the “modern” Sea Turtles.

Modern Sea Turtles are unfortunately not thriving like it´s Jelly-prey - but are under severe pressure, primarily due to human interferences.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Some of the main human caused treats to Sea Turtles are fishing activities.

Sea Turtles are often caught in fishing nets or on long lines, resulting in drowning or in their necks been torn inside out, thereafter left to die… Another major treat to Sea Turtles, is plastic consumption. Since Sea Turtles rely on Jellyfish as a major part of their diet, and for some - their only diet, - plastic pollution is a massive problem. Many Sea Turtles mistakes plastic for being Jellyfish, since it visually can be difficult to tell the difference.

A recent study showed that every Sea Turtle in the study had had microplastics in their guts…Link below :

The problem here is : If Sea Turtles consume too much plastic, they will die from constipation and starvation.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop

Sharks and Sea Turtles are only two exampels of living fossils. There are many other exampels of living fossils in the Oceans - but their reasons for being on the edge of extinction, though varying - all spring from the same fountain : Human Activity.

If You are interested in how You can contribute to save the worlds last living fossils, as well as contributing to a more sustainable future for the Oceans - follow the links below !

"10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean"

"30+ Important Things You Need To Know About Saving Your Ocean’s Environment"

"Help Save Sea Turtles with These Five Simple Steps"

"7 Ways To Reduce Ocean Plastic Pollution Today"

"6 Easy Ways To Help Save Sharks"

By Blue Reporter, Naja Bertolt Jensen


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