Scientists have discovered a new species of shark that had “fangs” when it hunted in Alabama waters 65 million years ago.
The team discovered 17 fossilized teeth that have been at a Geological Survey in Wilcox County for 100 years and they realized that the remains looked nothing like anything recorded: alive or extinct.
The shark, called Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi, could have been around 10 feet long, similar to the sand tiger shark, and was believed to be the top predator at the time the dinosaurs were wiped out from our planet.
Scientists found 17 tooth fossils at the Geological Survey in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
The tooth fossils were found more than 100 years ago at the McConnico Plantation in Wilcox County, Alabama.
Jun Ebersole, director of collections at the McWane Science Center, said he came across the tooth fossil collection a few years ago.
“It’s always exciting to discover a species that is new to science, but this one was particularly interesting because of the period in which this shark lived,” Ebersole told Dailymail.com.
“In this region, we don’t know much about the marine life that lived during the Paleocene, so getting additional information about this time range was especially interesting.”
The team found the teeth gathering dust in a small box among a collection of other fossils.
After investigation, researchers conclude that the remains belonged to the same ancient predator.
Ebersole and his team He compared the teeth to those of other living sharks, including great whites and makos, and found that they differed in shape depending on the location in the tooth cavity.
“Studying the jaws and teeth of living sharks allowed us to reconstruct the dentition of this ancient species and showed that it had a dental arrangement that differed from that of any living shark,” said David Cicimurri, Curator of Natural History.
The scientists compared the tooth fossil to a sand tiger shark, which is supposedly the closest species to the bozzocoi fossil.
Of the 17 teeth collected, only nine were complete; the remaining eight tooth fossils consist of only the main cusp or are missing some or all of their roots.
Palaeohypotodus had small, necessity-shaped fangs protruding from its jaws, which can be found on living sharks that feed on bony fish, crustaceans, and squid.
The extinct species was believed to have the size and flattened, tapered snout of today’s sand tiger shark, which is commonly found in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida, all located near Alabama.
When Palaeohypotodus dominated the seas, the lower half of Alabama was covered by a shallow tropical to subtropical ocean.
The team said that’s why the fossils were found so far inland: Wilcox County is about 200 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Scientists found 17 teeth that came from an extinct shark that lived 65 million years ago.
“Shark discoveries like this give us tremendous information about how ocean life recovers after major extinction events and also allow us to potentially predict how global events, such as climate change, affect current marine life,” said T. Lynn Harrell, Jr., paleontologist. and curator of fossil collections at the Geological Survey.
Ebersole said they were able to determine that the shark came from the Paleocene period because the geological layer it came from is just above the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary.
The limit It marks the period of time between the last period of the dinosaurs and the first period after the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The new species of shark was discovered in the layer just above the K/Pg boundary, showing that it lived during the Paleocene period, approximately 65 million years ago.
Alabama is one of the best preserved areas in the world for the K/Pg boundary, where the period is visible in rock layers.