Sharks are over 420,000,000 years old.
That’s older than flowering plants, older than trees, 200,000,000 years older than dinosaurs, almost older than vertebrates or animal life on land, and far, far, far older than anything even remotely resembling a mammal.
They’ve survived three ice ages and the rise and fall of the great aquatic invertebrates, the primitive reptiles, the dinosaurs, the warm-water whales, and the mammalian megafauna that came just before us.
They’ve survived virtually unchanged since the dawn of vertebrate life, too. If you found a picture of a primitive shark and showed it to someone who knew nothing about marine life, they’d go “oh, yeah, that’s a weird-looking shark”.
And they are headed for extinction some time in the next century if we continue killing them at this rate. There is still hope, the numbers are lowering more slowly and there are increasing populations in well-managed fisheries, but the four-hundred-and-twenty-million-year-old tops of our food chains are dying out for no other reason than because killing them is profitable.
Spread the word, everyone. Education is the key to getting shark finning banned, to pushing (or forcing) methods of fishing that reduce bycatch, and to convincing people that sharks are not monsters.