Having dominated the oceans for hundreds of years, one wonders whether sharks are older than trees or if they have existed even before that. There is no doubt that with their evolutionary history, sharks have had a significant impact on how our oceans look today. After all, as apex predators, sharks serve an important role in maintaining the ocean and its fish population.
We as humans are naturally frightened at the thought of sharks, but at the same time, there are people who got inspired either because of their elegance or physical appearance. As a matter of fact, not all sharks are dangerous to humans, but only a few of them are aggressive, while the rest of the species are kind in behavior.
Nevertheless, you should know when a shark attacks so that you can take precautions accordingly.
A shark, as a whole, probably goes back to at least 450 million years. This makes the shark species older than the human race and even the dinosaurs, but are sharks older than trees? We are going to find out.
Are sharks older than trees?
The shark’s period goes back to 420 million years, as mentioned earlier, and for humans, our ancestors have existed for about six million years, while it’s been only 200000 years that humans have evolved into a modern form.
By contrast, if we look into the history of trees, we see that the earliest trees lived around 350 million years ago.
All things considered, it’s clear that sharks are older than trees as well.
To get a better understanding of this phenomenon, let’s get a bit of an overview of shark evolution, and we might get to know how sharks have managed to survive for such a long period.
There were sharks around hundreds of millions of years ago, long before trees existed in the fossil record. As cartilaginous fishes, sharks are known for the cartilage in the majority of their skeleton – rather than bone; only their teeth are made of hard bone. Sounds confusing; learn here why do sharks have no bones?
Although sharks are often described as living fossils, they have evolved multiple forms over hundreds of millions of years based on different climates, meteorological events, and the varied food sources that have existed.
However, a few of the shark species hold the same characteristics today as they were hundreds of years ago, for example, the frilled shark. In the meantime, do check how many different types of sharks are there and the 15 most popular types around the world.
When it comes to finding out the first shark to be discovered on Earth, it is believed to be the Cladoselache species. However, traits were found even before that but with no eyes, bones, or fins. So, the Cladoselache species is said to be the first identifiable shark species on Earth.
The front of their snout was where their mouths were located, a trait that is still found today in frilled sharks and angel sharks. Aside from that, Cladoselache had fragile skin, which then evolved over time, and it helped sharks to be protected from predators. Why sharks are smooth is a good read if you want to find more about sharks’ skin.
A lot has been talked about sharks, but what do you think of the trees? Let’s explore a bit of that too.
The first tree on Earth
Archaeopteris was the first known tree to be found on Earth around 350 million years ago. Having a thick trunk, the wood resembles coniferous wood and is said to reach a height of 50 meters. The only plant life on Earth before the first trees appeared were primitive mosses and algae.
The first tree on Earth is said to have appeared on Earth between 350 and 420 million years ago, whereas when we talk about sharks, the sharks are believed to be discovered 450 million years ago. From the numbers, we can see that sharks are way older than trees.
Having said that, in today’s world, sharks are being killed in large numbers and for various reasons. Having more than 500 species around the world, many of them are declared endangered species.
To conclude, it is true that sharks appeared before trees, but they possessed very little in common with the sharks we know today.