The Secret History of Sharks: The Rise of the Ocean’s Most Fearsome Predators

Ballantine. Jul. 2024. 480p. ISBN 9780593598078. $35. NAT HIST
Long (paleontology, Flinders Univ.) gathers past and current research to tell the story of sharks throughout roughly 500 million years. He details fossils found all over the world and notes how these finds have contributed to people’s understanding of this group. These findings include megalodon teeth in Japan, a great white shark skull in Chile, toothed whales in New Zealand, and Mesozoic sharks in Montana. In the human era, sharks show up in mythology, industry, and art. Long’s book shows that fossils can reveal information about size, shape, movement, growth and feeding habits, as these remains depict sharks in the moment of eating prey, scavenging, and mating, all of which reveal much about their behavior. They can also tell scientists much about marine ecosystems today, such as the processes of adaptation, extinction, hunting, metabolism, migration, and parasite management. As databases of fossils grow, scientists worldwide can craft theories about shark origins and evolution. Long shares the work of many scientists he has met or admired in his decades-long study of sharks.
VERDICT This chronological shark history is thorough, remarkably readable, and recommended for general readers and specialists alike.
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