25 million year-old shark teeth discovered

12 Août, 2018, 16:57 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Dr. Erich Fitzgerald at the Jan Juc site where the fossil was found

Mullaly's discovery was confirmed by senior curator of vertebrate paleontology Erich Fitzgerald, who determined that the newfound fossil belonged to a great jagged narrow-toothed shark.

"I was immediately excited, it was just flawless", Mullaly said.

The New York Times reports Mullaly found the teeth in 2015. This shark, which could grow up to nine meters long, was terrorizing the oceanic waters of what is now Southern Australia some 25 million years ago.

Mullaly donated the teeth to the Melbourne Museum, where they are on display until October 7.

"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", Dr. Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at Museums Victoria, said in a statement.

Mullaly called to tell the paleontologists at Museums Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, about his discovery and the museum assembled a team to handle the excavation. That cartilage does not easily decompose, which is why individual shark tooth fossils are somewhat common.

He explained that nearly all fossils of sharks worldwide were just single teeth, and it was extremely rare to find multiple associated teeth from the same shark. "That's only happened once before in Australia, and that was a totally different species of shark", he said.

Fossilized teeth of the Sixgill shark
Fossilized teeth of the Sixgill shark

"It was an awesome creature, it would have been terrifying to come across", Mullaly said.

Fitzgerald organized a team to get down to the south Australia coast.

What started as a regular day at the beach for Philip Mullaly ended with a key scientific discovery.

Fossilized teeth of the Sixgill shark.

Inches teeth belong to the extinct predator known as Osasuna big toothed shark. "The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around".

"Sixgill sharks still exist off the Victorian coast today, where they live off the remains of whales and other animals", says Tim Ziegler, a paleontologist at Museums Victoria. "They are still sharp, even 25 million years later".

Fitzgerald also determined that all of the teeth most likely came from the same individual shark.

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