Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Amateur fossil hunter stumbles upon rare teeth from ancient mega-shark

Dr. Erich Fitzgerald at the Jan Juc site where the fossil was found Amateur fossil hunter stumbles upon rare teeth from ancient mega-shark
Sandy Nunez | 12 August, 2018, 16:56

The shark, which stalked Australia's oceans around 25 million years ago, feasting on small whales and penguins, could grow more than nine metres long, nearly twice the length of today's great white shark.

The almost three-inch-long teeth belonged to a now-extinct ferocious shark, aptly named the great jagged narrow-toothed shark, which is a smaller cousin of the famous megalodon shark, the subject of the new movie.

Fossilized teeth from an ancient mega-shark, considered a close cousin to the megalodon, have been discovered on an Australian beach and are set to be unveiled Thursday, Museums Victoria announced. A cousin of the famous megalodon, this big shark would have measured over 30 feet in length - aka, twice the length of a great white shark.

Erich Fitzgerald of Museums Victoria confirmed the species for Mullaly and explained just how special of a find they are.

Paleontologist-a lover Philip Mullaly came across a unique artifact when walking through the countryside, Jan-JUC, located about 100 kilometers from Melbourne.

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According to the scientists, this discovery is significant, as this set of teeth belonging to Carcharocles angustidens is the third known worldwide and the first found in Australia.

This is because sharks, who have the ability to regrow teeth, lose up to a tooth a day and cartilage, the material a shark skeleton is made of, does not readily fossilise. However, Fitzgerald said that finding multiple teeth from a single shark is extremely rare.

Meanwhile, the sixgill shark teeth uncovered along with the Carcharocles angustidens fossils appear to belong to several individuals, which probably scavenged on the dead mega-shark and lost their teeth in the process. "They are still sharp, even 25 million years later". When Fitzgerald and a team went to investigate, they found around 40 more teeth, including a few from a genus (Hexanchus) that is still alive today.

"If we can find out any more clues about the lifestyle (and) the ecology of this extinct species, that might shed light as to what led to its extinction", he said.

Fitzgerald also determined that all of the teeth most likely came from the same individual shark. "We'll be waiting and ready for the next expedition down to salvage a giant prehistoric shark".