"The more we discover about the Cretaceous period (145 million years to 66 million years ago) just before the non-bird dinosaurs went extinct, the more fantastic that world becomes", said Terry Gates, a lecturer at North Carolina State University.
The remains of a small prehistoric shark that lived during the age of dinosaurs 67 million years ago have been found, to the surprise of scientists and onlookers alike, according to a new study. This new species would have thrived along side Sue, in the same world, during the Mesozoic era. A newly discovered species of ancient shark which swam the oceans at the same time the mighty T. rex lumbered on land was just given a very nerdy name, and it's all thanks to its teeth.
Scientists conducting a recent painstaking examination of the two tons of rock left over after the fossilized bones of the celebrated Tyrannosaurus rex named Sue were extricated in the 1990s came across a surprise: shark teeth. The freshwater shark had odd triangle-shaped teeth and, due to its resemblance to the spaceships in the 1980s video game "Galaga", it's been dubbed Galagadon nordquistae.
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Unlike its gargantuan cousin the megalodon, Galagadon nordquistae is only about 12 to 18 inches long and is related to modern-day carpet sharks, said researchers from the North Carolina State University in the US.
"It was so tiny, you could miss it if you weren't looking really carefully", says Nordquist, a retired chemist who has been microsorting, or sifting through dirt to find tiny fossils, for the Field Museum for fifteen years.
However, said Dr Gates, "Galagadon was not swooping in to prey on T. rex, Triceratops, or any other dinosaurs that happened into its streams". They said it likely had camouflage skin, much like its descendents today-including the whiskered wobbegong and bamboo sharks.
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SUE the T. rex, at the Field Museum in Chicago, is the largest, most complete, and best preserved T. Rex ever discovered. "We had always thought of the SUE locality as being by a lake formed from a partially dried-up river-the presence of this shark suggests there must have been at least some connection to marine environments", says Makovicky.
The study also reflects the importance of learning about fossils beyond big, flashy dinosaurs. "This shark had teeth that were good for catching small fish or crushing snails and crawdads", Dr. Gates added. "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".
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