Largest predator species since dinosaurs discovered

"The fact that this time period is under-researched makes the discovery that much more important," the scientists said.

3 mins read
Largest predator species since dinosaurs discovered

Scientists have discovered a new species of shark with needle-like teeth in the US state of Alabama, which became one of the ocean’s top predators after the extinction of the dinosaurs.

The species, Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi, lived about 65 million years ago, in the period following the mass extinction event that wiped out more than 75 percent of life on Earth, including dinosaurs.

This shark species, which has small needle-like teeth on the sides of its tusks, was the top predator during the oceans’ recovery from the extinction event, researchers said.

“Shark discoveries like this one give us tremendous insight into how ocean life recovers after major extinction events,” said paleontologist Lynn Harrell, who was part of the discovery. It also allows us to predict the likely impacts of global events such as climate change on marine life today.”

During this geologic period, known as the Paleocene, much of the southern half of Alabama was covered by a shallow tropical and subtropical ocean, scientists said.

The latest discovery was made as researchers meticulously combed through more than a dozen fossil shark teeth collected 100 years ago from Wilcox County and stored at the Geological Survey in Alabama.

Nine of these teeth came from the upper jaw and eight from the lower jaw. Some had one or two pairs of canines or protruding teeth.

Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi tooth
Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi tooth

Scientists compared the fossil teeth with those of several still-living sharks, such as the Great White and Mako. They soon discovered that they belonged to a new, as yet unidentified species that lived during the Paleocene epoch.

“The fact that this time period is under-researched makes the discovery of this new shark species that much more important,” Dr. Harrell said.

The researchers also reconstructed the tooth structure of this ancient species and showed that the tooth arrangement is different from any living shark.

<p>Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi teeth</p>

Scientists named the species P. bizzocoi in honor of Birmingham archaeologist Bruce Bizzoco, who served as dean of Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa and died in 2022.

Based on the latest findings and the more than 400 unique shark and bony fish fossil species in the region, Alabama may have been one of the richest places in the world for marine diversity in prehistoric times, the researchers said.

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