Science & Technology

Fossilized teeth of megalodon ancestor found in Indian Ocean shark graveyard

Sydney, Australia, Dec 7 (EFE).- Scientists have discovered the fossilized teeth of an ancestor of the prehistoric megalodon in a shark graveyard in the Australian Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park, the government reported Wednesday.

The discovery was made during a research trip aboard the scientific vessel Investigator, operated by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, during a biodiversity survey of the remote area in the Indian Ocean.

During the expedition, a shark graveyard was discovered on the seafloor. A trawl survey at a depth of 5,400 meters brought up 750 fossilized shark teeth from various modern and ancient predatory species, including those of the ancestor of the feared megalodon, which is believed to have measured between 10-19m long, according to a CSIRO statement.

“The teeth look to come from modern sharks, such as mako and white sharks, but also from ancient sharks including the immediate ancestor of the giant megalodon shark,” said Western Australian Museum Curator of Fishes Glenn Moore, who was on the voyage.

“This shark evolved into the megalodon, which was the largest of all sharks but died out about 3.5 million years ago.”

Although the megalodon is considered one of the most powerful predators in history, it is only known from fragmentary remains such as its teeth, so its appearance and maximum size are uncertain, the statement added.

Based on the tooth they found, CSIRO researchers believe that this relative of the megalodon grew to over 12m.

In addition, during a survey currently underway in the Gascoyne Marine Park off Western Australia, scientists also discovered a new species of shark.

“Early in the voyage, we collected a striking small, stripey hornshark,” said said CSIRO’s Australian National Fish Collection shark expert Will White.

“This species is unique to Australia, but it hasn’t yet been described and named. The specimen we collected will be incredibly important to science because we’ll use it to describe the species.”

Hornsharks usually measure around 1m long, move slowly and are found in shallow waters. However, this new species lives in water over 150m deep.

“It’s been estimated that around a third of the species collected on recent biodiversity survey voyages on RV Investigator may be new to science,” said CSIRO Chief Scientist John Keesing.

“From small, new, bottom-dwelling sharks, to massive ancient mega-sharks that once roamed the oceans, these biodiversity surveys give us vital insights into the life in our oceans.” EFE


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