Australian teacher finds prehistoric shark teeth

Carcharocles angustidens

Amateur fossil hunter stumbles upon rare teeth from ancient mega-shark

Philip Mullaly was strolling along an area known as a fossil hotspot at Jan Juc, on the country's famous Great Ocean Road some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Melbourne, when he found the teeth from a giant prehistoric mega-shark twice the size of a great white, AFP reported.

Colloquially known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark, this predatory mammoth prowled the ancient seas 25 million years ago, during the Oligocene epoch, preying on penguins and small whales.

The almost three-inch-long teeth belonged to a now-extinct ferocious shark, aptly named the great jagged narrow-toothed shark, which is a smaller cousin of the famous megalodon shark, the subject of the new movie.

"If you think about how long we've been looking for fossils around the world as a civilization-which is maybe 200 years-in (that time) we have found just three (sets of) fossils of this kind on the entire planet, and this most recent find from Australia is one of those three", Fitzgerald told CNN.

"It dawned on me when I found the second, third and fourth tooth that this was a really big deal", Mullaly said.

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The teeth went on public display Thursday and will remain available to public view until October.

Most came from the mega-shark, but several smaller teeth were also found from the sixgill shark (Hexanchus), which still exists today.

Mullaly's is one of the rarest finds in the history of paleontology, according to Erich Fitzgerald, a palaeontologist at Museums Victoria who led a team to excavate the site where the initial fossils were found.

A prehistoric shark feast the Carcharocles angustidens being feasted upon by several Six Gill Sharks. At the same time, ancient teeth are seldom preserved, because the cartilage in their make-up doesn't fossilize easily. Some belonged to other species of shark, but a shocking number of them belong to the Carcharocles angustidens.

Mullaly ended up leading scientists from the museum to the site and they were able to extract more than 40 teeth. "The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around". This means that the sixgill shark's behavior has not changed much for tens of millions of years.

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