The rise of super predatory sharks

News | Created 10 May 2010

Dr Mikael Siversson holding a large shark jaw

As part of the Western Australian Museum’s International Year of Biodiversity lecture series, Museum curator of palaeontology Dr Mikael Siversson will present a fascinating public lecture on the rise and subsequent decline in diversity of super predatory lamniform sharks.

Specialising in fossil sharks and rays, Dr Siversson has also co-authored several publications on extinct marine reptiles and dinosaurs and is considered by his peers as a leading authority on Cretaceous lamniform sharks (an order of shark from the latter part of the Age of Dinosaurs).

His lecture will transport his audience to life on Earth in the Cretaceous period, over 100 million years ago, when relatives of today’s only remaining super predatory lamniform shark, the great white, ruled the oceans.

“Ichthyosaurs and pliosaurs (large marine reptiles) were the top predators of the oceans for much of the Age of Dinosaurs until the rise of giant lamniform sharks in the early Cretaceous period,” Dr Siversson said.

“Today only 15 living species of lamniform sharks exist compared to approximately 100 species at the peak of their diversity 100 million years ago.”

Compared to their main competition, the whaler sharks, the modern lamniform sharks have become highly specialised over the last 50 million years.

“Although the great white shark is amongst the ocean’s apex predators its specialisation, together with the dramatic human induced changes to the Earth’s biodiversity, raises concerns about its long-term survival.”

Dr Siversson’s insightful lecture will present an overview of the many facets of super predators, starting from the Cretaceous period, and touch on why they are vulnerable to extinction.

This lecture, The rise of super predatory sharks, is presented as part of the Harry Butler lecture series In the Wild West – a series of lectures by WA Museum scientists and associates.

LECTURE: The rise of super predatory sharks
WHEN: 7.00pm, Thursday 18 February 2010
10.00am, Friday 19 February 2010
WHERE: Western Australian Museum – Geraldton
Museum Place, Batavia Coast Marina.
BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL: +61 [0]8 9921 5080
COST: By gold coin donation.

Media contact
Flora Perrella
Western Australian Museum
Tel: +61 [0]8 9212 3856
Mob: 0424 027 646