HAVE you ever wondered why the Megalodon shark became to be so big? Or wondered why some other sharks are much smaller?
In a paper published by Evolution, research led by Swansea University’s Dr Catalina Pimiento and co-authored by an international team of scientists from the UK, Europe and the USA examined the biological traits of all sharks and rays before running a series of evolutionary models to seek how gigantism evolved over time.
The results showed that for a shark to be giant, it would need to first evolve adaptations that enhance feeding such as the ability to control – at least to some degree – their own body temperature or become a filter feeder.
One of the most famous giant sharks, Megalodon – the topic of 2018 Hollywood film The Meg – was an active predator that could measure up to 18 metres in length and became extinct around two million years ago.
Meanwhile, the whale shark – which is still around today – can also reach 18 metres but isn’t an active predator. Instead, it is a filter feeder and eats tiny plankton from the sea.
These two subjects formed key parts of the research, which centred on the tree of life for sharks, where the authors mapped characteristics relating to body size, like their thermo-regulatory capacity, feeding mechanism and diet.
Researchers then found that sharks could become giants by following one of two possible evolutionary pathways; the mesothermic pathway, which consists of evolving the ability to self-control the temperature of their most important organs – or the filter-feeding pathway, which consists of evolving the ability to feed on microscopic plankton.
The mesothermic adaptation allows sharks to live in different types of habitats – including cold waters – and also hunt more effectively. The filter-feeding adaptation allows sharks to eat the most abundant food in the ocean – plankton.
However, there are risks involved for any shark following the evolutionary pathways that lead to gigantism.
The mesothermic species need to consume big prey to maintain their high energetic demands, but when these prey are scarce, giant sharks are more susceptible to extinction. The scarcity of large prey in times of rapid climatic change was the most likely cause of the extinction of Megalodon.
While the filter feeders have shown more resilience, they are at risk of eating large volumes of toxic microplastics that now can be found in the world’s oceans – thus threatening their extinction.
Dr Catalina Pimiento, lead researcher and Postdoctoral fellow at Swansea University, said: “Sharks provide an ideal case study to understand the evolutionary pathways leading to gigantism in the oceans because they display contrasting lifestyles and adaptations and because they have an evolutionary history of at least 250 million years.”
Photo credit: Guillermo Torres. Banco de Imágenes Ambientales (BIA), Instituto Alexander von Humboldt.
Ceredigion music teacher presented with Honorary Fellowship
A PERIPATETIC music teacher who worked for Ceredigion Music Service for 35 years has been presented as an Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University.
Originally from Treherbert in the Rhondda Valley, Alan Phillips began his music career playing brass with the local Treherbert Band whilst at school.
After leaving school he became a bricklayer – a skill which took him all over the UK and to Europe. Then, at the age of 23 he embarked on a Music degree at Aberystwyth, graduating in 1981.
After gaining a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Cardiff, a chance encounter with some of his Aberystwyth friends led him to apply for the vacant brass peripatetic post in Ceredigion, to which he was duly appointed.
Over a 35 year career working for Ceredigion Music Service, Alan started the Aberystwyth Town Youth Band, and took numerous groups of young musicians to competitions at home and abroad.
Alan was presented as Honorary Fellow during the first of the University’s 2019 graduation ceremonies on Tuesday 16 July by Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Director of Welsh Language and External Engagement.
Hwyl yr Haf – Your guide for the summer holidays in Ceredigion
CERED’S 2019 Hwyl yr Haf programme was launched on July 5 at Gŵyl Aber. It is the essential guide for parents looking for Welsh and bilingual activities for their children in Ceredigion over the school summer holidays.
Cered has been creating Hwyl yr Haf programmes since 2017 to coordinate Welsh language activities during the school summer holidays in the Aberystwyth area, and to raise awareness of the wealth of Welsh language activities that are on the doorstep. This year’s programme will see Hwyl yr Haf include partners in south Ceredigion for the first time to ensure that Hwyl yr Haf actvities are accessible to children, young people and families across the county.
There are a number of new and exciting activities in Hwyl yr Haf 2019 including Ceredigion Museum’s planetarium and Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog’s Activity Days. There are also art, music, drama and dance workshops; Gigs Cantre’r Gwaelod’s Sunday Afternoon Series; mountain biking sessions and much more.
Non Davies is Cered’s Manager. She said: “Over ten thousand people saw our Hwyl yr Haf programme in 2018 and many of the activities sold out. With new partners such as Cardigan Castle, Gwersyll yr Urdd Llangrannog and Llandysul Library on board for the first time, this year we hope that even more Ceredigion families can enjoy a wealth of Welsh language activities over the summer holidays.”
To find Hwyl yr Haf activities search for Cered on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or go to www.cered.cymru/hwyl-yr-haf-19.
First Minister officially opens Ysgol Henry Richard
ON THURSDAY , July 11, Ysgol Henry Richard in Tregaron was officially opened by Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister of Wales.
During the opening, Dorian Pugh, Headmaster of Ysgol Henry Richard said: “We have been on an exciting journey in recent years and today we are celebrating solidarity. Today is a milestone for this school. With the new facilities, I am confident that our pupils receive valuable, up-to-date experiences and opportunities. On the teaching route from the smallest, at age three, to the oldest at age sixteen, they are co-working, co-travelling and co-succeeding, now at one campus, in one family. Today our motto was realised, ‘Mewn Llafur mae Elw’ (In labour there is profit) and we stick to the words here now going forward.
“I would like to thank the Welsh government and Ceredigion County Council for the investment in securing a bright future for education in this community. I am today a very proud head of the unique, special school here, Ysgol Henry Richard. One school, one site and one vision.”
Following the completion of a new building to accommodate 120 pupils of primary school age and 30 nursery places on the existing secondary school site, Ysgol Henry Richard now provides education for pupils from 3 to 16 years old on one location.
The 3-16 school first opened its doors to pupils on 1 October 2018 having previously occupied multiple sites including the former Tregaron and Llanddewi Brefi Primary Schools.
Councillor Catrin Miles, Cabinet member for Learning Services and Lifelong Learning said: “Ysgol Henry Richard is Ceredigion’s third ‘through-age school’ following Ysgol Bro Pedr and Ysgol Bro Teifi and we have increasing evidence of the benefits of co-location of primary and secondary provision. Locating the new primary school facility on the secondary school site has resulted in Ysgol Henry Richard having the ability to share facilities such as the dining hall, gymnasium, technology suite, main hall and science classrooms. Teaching resources can also be deployed across phases allowing subject specialisms and teaching pedagogy to be used flexibly to for pupils of all ages.”
Councillor Miles continued: “The Ysgol Henry Richard project was funded equally by Ceredigion County Council and Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools Fund. We are grateful to the contractors, local authority officers and the school for their work in enabling this complex project whilst maintaining secondary provision on the site throughout. The school is now well placed to provide excellent educational provision and opportunities in Tregaron and the surrounding area for many years to come.”
Mark Drakeford AM, First Minister said: “The remodelling of Ysgol Henry Richard is the final project in Ceredigion’s school programme, receiving £2.5 million from the first wave of funding of the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme. The most important thing about our Programme is that it has been co-designed, co-governed and co-delivered with local authorities and colleges throughout Wales. This means that these projects have been delivered strategically to meet local demand.
“Here in Ceredigion that has certainly been achieved by adopting school settings for nursery through to secondary age children, of which Ysgol Henry Richard is one. What an innovative way to provide continuity and familiarity for pupils, while delivering education in a sustainable way in a rural county.”
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