Carcharocles angustidens teeth. (Credit: Museum Victoria)
You’re gonna need a bigger… dentist?
An Australian teacher, and fossil enthusiast, stumbled across the find of a lifetime when he discovered a set of fossil 3-inch teeth of an extinct shark known as the great jagged narrow toothed shark or Carcharocles angustidens.
Phillip Mullaly said he could not believe what he saw, so he walked along Jan Juc, a city on the beach and the well-known fossil site along Victoria’s Surf Coast in Australia.
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“I walked along the beach looking for fossils, turned around, and saw this shining glint in a boulder and saw a quarter of the teeth exposed,” Mullaly said in a statement. “I was immediately excited, it was just perfect and I knew that it is an important finding that needed to be shared with people.”
The teeth, measuring 7 cm (2.7 inches) long, belonging to one of the largest ocean predators to life. Large Serrated Narrow Toothed sharks, grew to more than 30 metres in length, roaming the ancient seas.
The find of teeth are important for the understanding of how the ancient sharks lived, as the majority of their body are composed of cartilage, unlike bone, does not fossilize.
By comparison, great whites are known to grow up to 20 feet in length, including the shark known as “Deep Blue,” the largest great white ever caught on camera.
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The megalodon, which is the Large Serrated Narrow Toothed shark is a cousin, is generally accepted to have reached 60 meters in length. However, some scientists have a theory, it is 80 meters long.
The megalodon, which went extinct 2.6 million years ago, is featured in the new film “The Meg,” starring Jason Statham.
Large Serrated Narrow Toothed sharks were the top predators of their time, having lived about 25 million years ago. They feasted on the old whales, among other sea creatures.
Mullaly is particularly rare, because most shark fossils consist of a single tooth, largely due to the sharks are constantly losing teeth in their life. From Dec. 2017 to Jan. 2018, Mullaly and a team of museums and activities in Victoria discovered more than 40 teeth in total, with many belong to the Large Serrated Narrow Toothed shark.
The other teeth that were found belong to a variety of other sharks, including sixgill sharks, which are still available today.
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“I was a bit in shock actually, because I saw it and I thought, this is looking like it is complete, as it’s just fallen out of a shark’s mouth, even 25 million years old,” Mullaly said, according to Yahoo 7 News.
“These teeth are of international significance, as they represent one of the three associated groups of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the first set ever discovered in Australia,” Dr. Erich Fitzgerald, Senior Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at Museums Victoria said in a statement.
The teeth are donated to the Melbourne Museum, where she is now to be seen until 7 October.
Follow Chris Ciaccia on Twitter @Chris_Ciaccia