The 300-million-year-old shark’s tooth had been the primary signal that it is likely to be a definite species.
The traditional chompers appeared much less just like the spear-like rows of tooth of associated species. They had been squatter and shorter, lower than an inch lengthy, round 2 centimeters.
“Nice for greedy and crushing prey relatively than piercing prey,” mentioned discoverer John-Paul Hodnett, who was a graduate pupil when he unearthed the primary fossils of the shark at a dig east of Albuquerque in 2013.
This week, Hodnett and a slew of different researchers printed their findings in a bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Pure Historical past & Science figuring out the shark as a separate species.
He named the 6.7-foot (2 meter) monster Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, in honor of the New Mexico household that owns the land within the Manzano Mountains the place the fossils had been discovered. Hodnett says the world is rife with fossils and straightforward to entry due to a quarry and different industrial digging operations.
The title additionally harkens to the dragon-like jawline and a couple of.5-foot (0.75-meter) fin spines that impressed the invention’s preliminary nickname, “Godzilla Shark.”
The formal naming announcement adopted seven years of excavation, preservation and research.
The 12 rows of tooth on the shark’s decrease jaw, for instance, had been nonetheless obscured by layers of sediment after excavation. Hodnett solely noticed them through the use of an angled gentle method that illuminates objects under.
Hodnett is now the paleontologist and program coordinator for the Maryland-Nationwide Capital Parks and Planning Fee’s Dinosaur Park in Laurel, Maryland. His fellow researchers come from the New Mexico museum, in addition to St. Joseph’s College in Pennsylvania, Northern Arizona College, and Idaho State College.
The recovered fossil skeleton is taken into account essentially the most full of its evolutionary department —ctenacanth — that break up from fashionable sharks and rays round 390 million years in the past and went extinct round 60 million years later.
Again then, japanese New Mexico was coated by a seaway that prolonged deep into North America. Hodnett and his colleagues imagine that Hoffman’s dragon shark probably lived within the shallows alongside the coast, stalking prey like crustaceans, fish and different sharks.
New Mexico’s excessive desert plateaus have additionally yielded many dinosaur fossils, together with numerous species of tyrannosaurus that roamed the land tens of millions of years in the past when it was a tropical rain forest.
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