Fossil Shark Scales Provide a Glimpse of Reef Predator Populations Before Human Impact
Published:12 Jul.2021    Source:University of California - Santa Barbara

Scientists recently made news by using fossil shark scales to reconstruct shark communities from millions of years ago. At the same time, an international team of researchers led by UC Santa Barbara ecologist Erin Dillon applied the technique to the more recent past.

Human activities have caused shark populations to plummet worldwide since records began in the mid-20th century. However, the scientists were concerned that these baseline data may, themselves, reflect shark communities that had already experienced significant declines. Dillon compared the abundance and variety of shark scales from a Panamanian coral reef 7,000 years ago to those in reef sediments today to discern how reef-associated shark communities have changed since humans began using marine resources in the area.