Monsters of the Deep: Evidence Found in Australia


For those that grew up watching the Jaws movies, this next discovery might have you running form the water again. The knowledge of larger sharks has been in the scientific community for a while. The evidence, however, has been spread out and minimal. No one really wants to see this prehistoric creature in person while out surfing. However, we can’t help but wonder what it must have looked like alive and out on the water searching for dinner. We are getting a better idea of what the teeth may have been like after this latest find.

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The Explorer
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Philip Mullaly, a teacher from Australia took a second look when he saw something resembling a blade with serrated edges pressed into a boulder. Suddenly, his leisurely walk along the beach turned into something far more exciting. With a little work, he was able to extract the object form the hard rock. He was astounded at the size and how sharp the item was. It rivaled the size of his fist. There has been little doubt that this tooth resided in the mouth of a giant shark from about 25 million years ago. This guy could have eaten today’s great white whole.  Mullaly continued to visit the area and found even more teeth. These were all over three inches long.

Evidence

Mullaly contacted a paleontologist at the Museums Victoria in Melbourne to find out more about this deadly dentition. The best match is the great jagged narrow-toothed shark (Carcharocles angustidens). What made the discovery more unusual was the acquisition of about 40 more teeth and the shark’s vertebrae. The original owners of these teeth varied between the earlier mentioned Carcharocles angustidens and a group of six-gilled sharks (Hexarchies). These smaller sharks still roam the waters around Victoria in the modern world. The angustidens is related to the infamous megladon. Its size enabled it to hunt small whales. Amazingly, it also grew to over thirty feet in length.

Significance

Mega-shark teeth are normally found alone. They seem to have scattered haphazardly around the globe. This recent find of Carcharocles angustidens teeth is the third set known to scientists. It is also a first for Australia. This makes it a significant moment in scientific research. Somehow, a large amount of this giant creature ended up in a different place than all the others. Teeth give important insight concerning ancient sharks. Sharks are made mostly of cartilage, making it hard to find large portions of their remains. This cartilage decays but bones are fossilized.

Theories

Scientists have theorized that this Carcharocles angustidens died and sank to the sea floor. There, the six gilled sharks may have torn it apart with their own saw-like teeth. A meal of this size would have invited hungry sea creatures from miles away. With little evidence from these creatures, there is still a lot to learn.

Ancient creatures always seem a bit science fiction when we start discussing how incredibly huge they were. A three inch tooth is certainly not something we would want to encounter, in small numbers, much less an entire set of them. Scientists are always on the lookout for more evidence. 

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