Thursday, 18 January 2018

Megalodon Ancestor: Fossil Teeth Link Beast to Earth’s Largest Shark

By Laura Geggel, Senior Writer | January 8, 2018 07:33am ET

It took nearly 40 years, but researchers have finally collected enough fossil teeth in Alabama to properly identify a previously unknown species of ancient shark — one that was a possible ancestor of megalodon, the largest shark to ever exist.

The newly identified mega-toothed shark lived about 83 million years ago, during the dinosaur age. Its largest tooth discovered so far measures about 1 inch (2.7 centimeters) long, which is substantially smaller than the 7-inch-long (17.7 cm) teeth sported by megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon), the researchers said in a new study.

"Over time, the sharks in the megalodon line acquire [tooth] serrations, lose their cusplets (the little 'fangs' on the sides of the main cusp) and grow to enormous sizes," said study lead researcher Jun Ebersole, director of collections at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham, Alabama. The newfound shark is an early member of this family, so its teeth are small and unserrated, with up to two pairs of cusplets, he said. [Aahhhhh! 5 Scary Shark Myths Busted]

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