Scientists have uncovered an underwater shark graveyard where hundreds of fossilized shark teeth are located. This area was discovered off the coast of Australia, officials note. And, among the findings is something even further impressive. The explorers have found a tooth that belongs to the ancient ancestor of the now-extinct apex predator, the megalodon.
This remarkable discovery was made during a biodiversity study that was being conducted by researchers from Australia’s National Science Agency in Cocos Islands Marine Park. The researchers cast nets deep into the ocean waters during these surveys. By doing this the scientists can sample a variety of different animals that reside in the area.
Initially, The Researchers Didn’t Think They Uncovered Anything
When recounting the impressive discovery, Dianne Bray says that at first, the researchers didn’t think their net had brought anything interesting up from the ocean floor. Bray is a senior collections officer for the Museums Victoria Research Institute.
“Initially we thought it was just full of sediment and manganese nodules,” the researcher recalls. However, they soon discovered that they have uncovered something very unique once they took a closer look.
In total, the researchers found and identified nearly 750 shark teeth. All were recovered from a depth of almost 18,000 feet.
“Not all were fossils,” Bray explains.
“Some were relatively recent mako sharks and two species of great white shark relatives,” the ocean researcher says.
Researchers Uncover Wild Fossil In The “Shark Graveyard”
Among the finds is one particularly exciting specimen, a tooth that the scientists believe is from an ancient ancestor of the now-extinct megalodon shark. This ancestor evolved into the megalodon, notes Glenn Moore Curator of Fishes at the WA Museum.
“This shark evolved into the megalodon,” Moore explains. “Which was the largest of all sharks but died out about 3.5 million years ago.”
The megalodon shark is a prehistoric ocean predator that lived at least 20 million years ago. The meaning of the shark’s name literally means “large tooth.” A name for which it has lived up, researchers note. Megalodons grew to an estimated 65 feet with teeth that are the size of a human hand.
Additionally, Moore says, the entire finding on the sea floor was absolutely astounding. To find so many teeth in such a small area is a very unusual discovery.
“I have never seen anything like this” Moore says.
“Or heard of anything like that,” he continues adding that this was a “unique opportunity” to find this impressive collection in one area.
“It was amazing, it really was,” Bray says of the discovery.