Arctic shark teeth fossils may contain clues about climate adaptation

When we think of climate change and the Arctic, it’s usually polar bears or seals that come to mind.

But it turns out animal fossils dating from 50 million years ago have a story to tell us a well.

A recent study of shark teeth from this period suggests these animals could handle some of the environmental changes that come with warming temperatures better than we think.

“It could suggest that in future climate change that sharks have a lot more ecological plasticity, that is they can tolerate a lot more environmental conditions, then (what) they are living in today and make those fine physiological adjustments to be able to survive,” says Sora Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago who led the study.

To find out why, Eye on the Arctic’s Eilís Quinn spoke with Sora Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago who led the study:

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: More Grizzlies and wolves moving north to High Arctic, CBC News

Finland: Ticks appearing in Finland’s Arctic, Yle News

Greenland: Scientist plans to tag Greenland sharks, CBC News

Russia: Melting permafrost eroding Siberian coasts, Deutsche Welle Ice-Blog

Sweden: Swedish councils prepare for adaptation to climate change, Radio Sweden

United States:  Mosquito swarms in Alaska’s Arctic: The worst of the worst?, Alaska Dispatch

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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