Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

These enormous shark teeth belonged to the megalodon's cousin

Great Jagged Narrow Toothed Shark teeth found in Australia Great Jagged Narrow Toothed Shark teeth found in Australia
Cary Marshall | 12 August, 2018, 16:57

Colloquially known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark, this predatory mammoth prowled the ancient seas 25 million years ago, during the Oligocene epoch, preying on penguins and small whales.

The shark was about twice the length of a normal great white shark.

Though people have found single shark teeth belonging to the megatoothed shark before, Mullaly's find was the first time a set had been discovered in Australia, and only the third time a set of teeth belonging to the same individual Carcharocles angustidens had been found in the world.

The teeth went on public display Thursday and will remain available to public view until October.

Dr. Erich Fitzgerald at the Jan Juc site where the fossil was found.

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"These teeth are of global significance, as they represent one of just three associated groupings of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the very first set to ever be discovered in Australia", said Dr. Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate paleontology at Museums Victoria.

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.

Fitzgerald's team has finished their field research and are now working to learn more about how the teeth of the Great Jagged Narrow-Toothed shark developed in order to better understand its evolutionary history.

This makes the newfound fossils all the more extraordinary, as multiple shark teeth coming from the same specimen are notoriously hard to find. These belong not only to Carcharocles angustidens, but also to much smaller species, the sixgill shark (Hexanchus), the scavenger that has survived until today. "They are still sharp, even 25 million years later".

"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. As scientists say, the sixgill's teeth were from several sharks, which most likely were feeding on Carcharocles angustidens' carcass. For now, those potential samples are about 20 meters (65 feet) high, out of the reach of excavators.

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