Biology

Prehistoric shark had video-game teeth

Prehistoric shark had video-ga...
Galagadon nordquisti  likely lay on the riverbed, feeding on invertebrates
Galagadon nordquisti  likely lay on the riverbed, feeding on invertebrates
View 3 Images
Karen Nordquist, the Field Museum volunteer for whom Galagadon nordquisti is named, working at the microsorting station in the fossil prep lab where she discovered the teeth
1/3
Karen Nordquist, the Field Museum volunteer for whom Galagadon nordquisti is named, working at the microsorting station in the fossil prep lab where she discovered the teeth
The fossilized teeth each measured less than one millimeter across
2/3
The fossilized teeth each measured less than one millimeter across
Galagadon nordquisti  likely lay on the riverbed, feeding on invertebrates
3/3
Galagadon nordquisti  likely lay on the riverbed, feeding on invertebrates

Currently on display at Chicago's Field Museum, "Sue" is the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found. Although the fossilized bones were unearthed 20 years ago, scientists recently discovered the remains of a previously-unknown shark that co-existed along with the dinosaur – and the fish has been named after a classic video game.

Due to the fact that sharks have cartilaginous skeletons which don't fossilize, all that were found were approximately two dozen of the creature's tiny teeth.

Shaped like the alien spaceships from the 80s video game Galaga, these teeth were each less than one millimeter across – they were discovered by Field Museum volunteer Karen Nordquist, as she was sifting through some of the leftover sediment in which Sue's bones were found. As a result, the "new" shark has been named Galagadon nordquistae.

The fossilized teeth each measured less than one millimeter across
The fossilized teeth each measured less than one millimeter across

The freshwater fish is thought to have been only 12 to 18 inches long (305 to 457 mm), and was likely related to modern-day "carpet sharks" such as the wobbegong. It would have swum up from the sea into rivers in what is now South Dakota, during the Cretaceous period – about 67 million years ago. Its teeth (pictured above) were probably designed for crushing the shells of invertebrate prey such as snails and crayfish.

"Every species in an ecosystem plays a supporting role, keeping the whole network together," says North Carolina State University lecturer Terry Gates, lead author of a paper on the discovery. "There is no way for us to understand what changed in the ecosystem during the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous without knowing all the wonderful species that existed before."

The paper was recently published in the Journal of Paleontology.

Sources: North Carolina State University, Field Museum

0 comments
There are no comments. Be the first!