SURF COAST, AUSTRALIA – Amateur fossil enthusiast Phil Mullaly knew he had found something special when he saw something glittering in a boulder.
Mullaly walked along Jan Juc, a famous fossil site along Victoria's surf coast in South Australia, when he spotted a partially exposed shark tooth in the rock
"I was immediately excited, it was just perfect," Mullaly said.
That was just one of several teeth Mullah found in 2015. Three years later, scientists have confirmed his suspicion and said on Thursday that the teeth are all about 25 million years old and belong to an extinct species of megacore shark – the Great Jagged Narrow-Toothed Shark (Carcharocles angustidens)
The Ancient Shark was believed to grow to about 9 meters (30 feet) long, twice the size of a large white shark. The teeth, which were discovered on the beach, were about 7 cm long.
Mullaly is one of the rarest finds in the history of paleontology, says Erich Fitzgerald, paleontologist at Museums Victoria, who led a team to excavate the museum site of the first fossils.
"Considering how long we've been looking for fossils as civilizations around the world ̵
"My jaw dropped somehow & # 39;
Fitzgerald said that he was first contacted by Mullaly Last year about another discovery in which he briefly mentioned the find at Jan Juc, but it was only when the fossil hunter put his teeth into the museum that Fitzgerald realized how significant the discovery was ,
Sharks have the ability to regrow tea, and can lose up to a tooth a day. This cartilage does not decompose so easily, which is why individual shark tooth fossils are somewhat common. However, Fitzgerald said that it is extremely rare to find multiple teeth from a single shark.
"That does not happen, it just does not happen, it just happened once in Australia, and that was a different kind of shark," he said.
When Mullaly told him that the boulder was still on the beach, Fitzgerald said, "My jaw dropped somehow." 19659002] Fitzgerald organized a team to get to the coast of South Australia. They decided to complete the excavations in December 2017, when the tides were low. Within 20 minutes of the search, Fitzgerald's team began to find teeth.
In the end, they have taken more than 40 different samples. Fitzgerald credits the finds of dogged work and a little luck.
"Paleontology is one of the last branches of science where coincidence, chance, timing, coincidence plays a very important role," he said.
On this day, Phil Mullaly was the right man for the job on this beach on the south coast of Australia.
Sharks eat sharks
The teeth Fitzgerald's team found not only belonged to the Large Jagged Narrow-Toothed Shark but also found teeth that belonged to several different Sixgill Sharks (Hexanchus), Victoria said , a species that still roams the coastal waters of Australia.
Researchers believe that these teeth were left behind because they lodged themselves in the body of the Great Jagged Narrow-Toothed Shark as smaller sharks that fed after the death of the much larger animal
"The teeth of the Sixgill Shark look like a chop saw and tore into the Carcharocles angustidens like a woodcutter. The stench of blood and rotten meat would have attracted scavengers from afar, "said Victoria paleontologist Tim Ziegler in a statement.
" Even today, six-membered sharks live off the Victorian coast, where they live on the remains of whales , This find suggests that they have been living this lifestyle for tens of millions of years.
Fitzgerald's team has completed their fieldwork and is now working to learn more about how the teeth of the Great Jagged Narrow Tooth Shark are designed to better understand its evolutionary history.
"If we can find more clues about the lifestyle (and) ecology of these extinct species, it could shed light on what led to its extinction." He said:
Fitzgerald said he still believes in Jan Juc based on what he saw during the excavation, these potential specimens are about 20 meters high, out of reach of excavators.
"I bet that up there is more, "he said." We will wait for the next expedition to rescue a huge prehistoric shark. "