The examination of rare fossilized teeth has led to the discovery of an extinct species of giant shark.
Millions of years ago, massive sharks stalked their prey through the world’s waters. Today, following the discovery of its teeth in very different places around the globe, scientists say that a newly discovered species called Megalolamna paradoxodon is remarkable in its range and size.
Megalolamna, a cousin of the famous megalodon, left toothy reminders of its presence in such disparate parts as modern day Peru, North Carolina, California, and Japan, although it was rare compared to megalodon.
“The fact that such a large …shark with such a wide geographic distribution had evaded recognition until now indicates just how little we still know about the Earth’s ancient marine ecosystem,” said study lead author Kenshu Shimada, of DePaul University.
The shark lived about 20 million years ago, and researchers have been able to trace its range in the world’s oceans by the massive 2-inch teeth it left behind.
Yet despite the dental hints it left, scientists say that until now, Megalolamna was not recognized as a distinct species. At first, they believed it was similar to megalodon or a member of the Lamna shark genus, the ancestors of modern salmon sharks and porbeagles. Closer examination of Megalolamna teeth, however, shows that the shark is not a Lamna shark relative, as the teeth were too “robust.”
Instead, researchers say that the Otodus genus could be a better classification for the massive sharks than the traditional Carcharocles genus.