© Sebastian Stumpf / Fabrizio De Rossi
The startling discovery of the nearly complete skeleton of a shark from the Jurassic period gave researchers a startling new insight into life on Earth 150 million years ago.
An exceptionally well-preserved fossil was found in the Solnhofen Limestone Formation, in Bavaria, Germany, which had a tropical lake landscape when the shark was at its best in the distant past of Earth.
The fossil consisted of the remains of an astracanthus shark over eight feet (2.5 meters) long, which researchers say this made it a “giant” among the Jurassic sharks.
© Sebastian Stumpf
Astracanthus is a type of Hybodontiform shark, which is the closest relative of modern sharks.
© Fabrizio De Rossi
Predators roamed the seas of ancient Earth for nearly 300 million years. It was equipped with 150 sharp teeth, which led experts to conclude that it was a gut eater.
This specialized type of tooth indicates that Astracanthus was an active predator feeding on a wide range of predators.
“Astracanthus was certainly not only one of the largest cartilaginous fish of its time, but also one of the most impressive fish,” said Sebastian Stumpf of the University of Vienna, the paleontologist who led the research.
Sharks survived two mass extinctions before going extinct with dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago. This finding is of great value because fossil shark skeletons are rare due to the fact that they are made of cartilage.
The Swiss-American naturalist, Louis Agassiz, described “Astracanthus” a scientific breakthrough in more than 180 years. This is the first time that arthropod fossil remains have been found.