New extinct species of large shark has been discovered by scientists
The ancient coastlines of Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were once dominated by a previously unknown large species of shark. The giant shark lived around 20 million years ago during the early Miocene epoch and belonged to a shark group called Lamniformes, which is related to the modern-day great white and mako sharks. Researchers have reached to these conclusions after analyzing five fossilized teeth that were up to 1.8 inches long and were collected from different parts of the world: California, North Carolina, Peru and Japan.
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“The fact that such a large lamniform 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.” Kenshu Shimada, lead author of the study and a paleobiologist at DePaul University in Chicago said in a statement.
The new shark species is estimated to be 13 feet long, a size equivalent to common modern-day great white shark. The species has been named Megalolamna paradoxodon because of its close relatation to extinct superpredator 'megalodon' or the 'megatoothed' shark while the word paradoxodon comes from the fact that the shark suddenly emerged in the geologic record without solving nearly 45-million-year gap from when genus Megalolamna possibly diverged from Otodus. Both extinct genuses belonged to the same family of shark called Otodontidae.
The teeth of Megalolamna paradoxodon look like over-sized teeth of modern salmon shark. The front teeth likely permitted them firm grasp on a prey while teeth in the back were possibly used for seizing and slicing.
Researchers have estimated the length of the shark by comparing the specimens to modern shark teeth. But they are still unsure exactly how large Megalolamna paradoxodon could grow.
John-Paul Hodnett, a shark specialist from Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, who was not involved in the study, says.
“For teeth, you should always be cautious of the fact that is possible to have very large or small teeth in a shark’s jaw, which do not represent the true aspect of the shark’s body size.”