Large marine megafauna, including megalodon, the largest shark to have ever lived, disappeared during a global extinction event that had previously not been recognized as such. At the end of the Pliocene, between two and three million years ago, the planet entered a phase of great climate change, marked by important fluctuations in the level of the sea. Scientists know that these climatic shifts often go hand in hand with a loss of habitat and that they can cause major threats to a whole range of species.
(From International Business Times / by Léa Surugue) — Previous studies had documented individual examples of marine creatures becoming extinct around that time, including megalodon, and a number of ancient penguins and sea turtles.
However, it remained unclear whether these were simply isolated background extinctions, or if they formed part of a global marine extinction event resulting from environmental and climatic changes.
“There had been a lot of studies showing individual extinctions around that time, but no one had recognised these as a global extinction event of marine megafauna as a whole, until now,” Dr. Catalina Pimiento, from the Paleontological Institute and Museum of the University of Zurich, told IBTimes UK.
In a study now published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, Pimiento and colleague investigate severity of the extinction of marine megafauna during the Pliocene, and examine the potential causes and consequences of this event on the planet’s biodiversity.
They argue that a large, previously unknown extinction event occurred in the oceans worldwide around the end of the Pliocene.