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Scientists study fossil evidence of the shark hunting on flying dinosaur in the middle of the air

Dinosaur researchers have discovered fossil evidence that at least one shark in the Cretaceous age caught his food — a flying reptile in the air. This reconstructed image shows the large Cretoxyrhina mantelli shark to bite into the neck of a Pteranodon.
(Photo by Mark Witton)

Dinosaur researchers have found fossil evidence that at least one shark in the Cretaceous age caught his food — a flying reptile in the air.

The fossil, preserved in the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, shows a tooth of a large Cretoxyrhina mantelli shark lodged between the vertebrae of a Pteranodon, a flying reptile that lived from the Triassic period to the Cretaceous.

The fossil, excavated in the 1960’s, but not studied until recently. The scientists were intrigued by the tooth, it is the “first documented occurrence of this large shark interaction with that.”
(Stephanie Abramowicz and David Hone, with thanks to the Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

University of Southern California scientists observed of the bones, published their findings Friday in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.

The review explained that the interaction between the flying reptiles, and fish, including sharks, are included for “until now, interactions between Cretoxyrhina and Females remained elusive.”

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“There are sharks today that hunt birds? Yes, there are,” Michael Habib, a co-author of the study, said Phys.org. “Is that unique, or have big sharks are hunting at flying creatures over millions of years? The answer is yes, they have. We know now, sharks were hunting on flying animals as long ago as 80 million years.”

The fossil, excavated in the 1960’s, but not studied until recently. The scientists were intrigued by the tooth, it is the “first documented occurrence of this large shark interaction with that.”

Two views of the Cretoxyrhina mantelli tooth with traces.
(David Hone)

The researchers said that it is “not possible to infer or to the interaction between the shark and the flying reptile was for scavenging purposes, or if it represents predatory behavior.

“We know that the big sharks ate, so we can say a large fast predatory species could very well have eaten this Species, as it is in the water, but we will probably never know exactly,” Habib said.

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