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Kristen Grace / Florida Museum of Natural History

Predators in the oceans grew significantly bigger 540 million years ago, while their prey became faster and trickier, according to a new study in Science.

It's one of the first pieces of evidence to support a popular evolutionary hypothesis that's been difficult to prove: the notion that, as predators evolve to become bigger and more powerful, the entire predator-prey relationship up and down the food chain also changes. Researchers were able to observe in the fossilized record how ocean predators increased in size over millions of years and how that drove more changes down the food web.

How they did it: Researchers studied the attack marks - known as "drill holes" - in 7,000 different fossilized shells from the Phanerozoic period 540 million years ago. During that era, they found that that the predators of these prey had all grown significantly bigger. Meanwhile, the prey had all remained the same size – though they had also become more mobile and better able to burrow in order to escape the ever-growing predators. Over the last 500 million years, the ratio between the size of marine predators and their prey increased 67-fold.

Go deeper

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.

Texas Republicans pass new congressional maps in their favor

Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Texas House voted 84-59 late Monday to approve new congressional district maps that reduce the number of districts with Black and Hispanic majorities, per the Texas Tribune.

Why it matters: The legislation comes after recent census figures found Texas' growing diverse population doesn't bode well for Republicans, who then worked to protect incumbents with the redrawn maps.