Deep Within A Cave, Researchers Came Across Two Ancient Sharks That Lived 325 Million Years Ago, And We Never Knew About Them Before

willyam - - illustrative purposes only

Deep within a cave that was once submerged underwater, researchers discovered two new ancient shark species that lived around 325 million years ago.

The shark fossils had been preserved in what is now Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Mammoth Cave is known as the world’s longest cave system, covering over 400 miles of chambers and rock tunnels.

The two species have been identified as Troglocladodus trimblei and Glikmanius careforum. They are both ctenacanths, which are cousins of modern sharks with comb-like barbs on their spines that are used for defense purposes.

Ctenacanths first appeared in the fossil record about 380 million years ago and had large ornamented spines on their dorsal fins.

The fossil specimens were in excellent condition since they were protected from the elements within the walls of the cave.

A paleontologist at the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission named John-Paul Hodnett told Live Science that the shark teeth appear as if they “just came out of the shark’s mouth yesterday.”

It is believed that T. trimblei was 10 to 12 feet long and had teeth that resembled the prongs of a fork, which was why it was given the name Troglocladodus, meaning “cave-branching tooth.”

It was also named in honor of the superintendent at Mammoth Cave, Barclay Trimble, who found the specimen in 2019.

G. careforum was also about 10 to 12 feet long. It had a powerful bite that gave it the ability to feast on other sharks. According to Hodnett, the species behaved similarly to the lemon sharks or gray sharks of today.

willyam – – illustrative purposes only

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