Cretaceous stem chondrichthyans survived the end-Permian mass extinction.Nat Commun. 2013; 4:2669.NC
Cladodontomorph sharks are Palaeozoic stem chondrichthyans thought to go extinct at the end-Permian mass extinction. This extinction preceded the diversification of euselachians, including modern sharks. Here we describe an outer-platform cladodontomorph shark tooth assemblage from the Early Cretaceous of southern France, increasing the fossil record of this group by circa 120 million years. Identification of this material rests on new histological observations and morphological evidence. Our finding shows that this lineage survived mass extinctions most likely by habitat contraction, using deep-sea refuge environments during catastrophic events. The recorded gap in the cladodontomorph lineage represents the longest gap in the fossil record for an extinct marine vertebrate group. This discovery demonstrates that the deep-sea marine diversity, poorly known during most of the fish evolutionary history, contains essential data for a complete understanding of the long-term evolution of marine fish paleobiodiversity.