Set of teeth of today’s white shark and a reconstructed set of teeth of a fossil great white shark
Great white shark cage diving at Guadalupe with Horizon
He and his colleagues analysed statistically 5 to 2 million year old fossil teeth of this fascinating shark, which were found at several sites along the Pacific coast of Chile and Peru, to reconstruct body size distribution patterns of great white shark in the past. The results show that body sizes varied considerably along the South American paleo-Pacific coast. One of these localities in northern Chile, Coquimbo, revealed the highest percentage of young sharks, the lowest percentage of “teenagers”. Sexually mature animals were completely absent.
This first undoubted paleo-nursery of the Great White Shark is of enormous importance. It comes from a time when the climate was much warmer than today, so that this time can be considered analogous to the expected global warming trends in the future. “If we understand the past, it will enable us to take appropriate protective measures today to ensure the survival of this top predator, which is of utmost importance for ecosystems,” explains palaeobiologist Jürgen Kriwet: “Our results indicate that rising sea surface temperatures will change the distribution of fish in temperate zones and shift these important breeding grounds in the future”.
This would have a direct impact on population dynamics of the great white shark and would also affect its evolutionary success in the future. “Studies of past and present nursery grounds and their response to temperature and paleo-oceanographic changes are essential to protect such ecological key species,” concluded Jürgen Kriwet.
Contacts and sources:
University of Vienna
First evidence of a palaeo-nursery area of the great white shark.
Villafaña, J.A., Hernandez, S., Alvarado, A., Shimada, K., Pimiento, C., Rivadeneira, M.M. & Kriwet, J., in: Scientific Reports,
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