JAN 21, 2019 7:48 PM PST

Fossilized Shark Teeth Provide Clues About a Species That Lived Alongside T. Rex

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Standing tall in the display room of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois is Sue the T. Rex, an incredibly well-preserved specimen of everybody’s favorite dinosaur. But what you might not have known is that the museum also preserved and stored all the original sediment that was removed from Sue’s bones before her skeletal erection on the showroom floor.

As it now seems, that was probably a good idea. A team of scientists allegedly opted to sift through the old stockpiles of dirt and rock with a fine-toothed comb to discover smaller tidbits that may have been missed during the initial excavation, and astonishingly, they found something: the remains of an unidentified shark species that existed alongside Sue.

An artist's impression of Galagadon, a newly-discovered shark species that existed with T. Rex.

Image Credit: Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum

The findings, which have been published this week in the Journal of Paleontology, describe a small shark with several tiny triangular teeth measuring no more than a millimeter across. Intriguingly, the teeth are shaped much like the spaceships found in the 1980s video game Galaga, which consequently resulted in the shark’s official name: Galagadon nordquistae.

One of the teeth of Galagadon.

Image Credit: Terry Gates

"Galagadon was less than two feet long--it's not exactly Jaws," said Peter Makovicky, the curator of dinosaurs at the museum and a co-author of the paper. "It's comparable to bamboo sharks living today. It probably had a flat face and was very likely camouflage-colored, since its relatives today have a camouflage pattern. It would have eaten small invertebrates and probably spent a fair amount of time lying on the bottom of the riverbed."

Related: Will this technology prevent future shark attacks?

The sediment in which Galagadon was discovered had reportedly been sitting in the museum’s storage room for decades. Given the circumstances in which the shark’s remains were found, it’s almost a miracle that it didn’t go unnoticed once again.

This was a particularly remarkable eureka moment for paleontologists because the findings would indicate that Galagadon existed at the same time as Sue the T. Rex. Understanding this small fact helps scientists fill the many gaps that reside in the biological timeline that represents life on Earth before people.  

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

Related: Great white shark dies in captivity in a Japanese aquarium

Breakthroughs just like this one are enough to make anyone wonder if paleontologists might have missed anything else while digging up massive fossils from the Earth. Perhaps eager scientists will follow suit and repeat similar procedures at other fossil sites around the globe; after all, it just might turn up an important discovery.

Source: EurekAlert, Journal of Paleontology

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
Invasive Mussels are Taking Over Australia's Coastlines
Any type of organism that is not native to a location but ends up there anyway is considered an invasive species....
DEC 09, 2019
Neuroscience
DEC 09, 2019
Russian Cows Use VR Headsets to Increase Milk Production
Harsh weather conditions, particularly those found during winter months, are known to lead to a decrease in milk production among cows. To tackle this, Rus...
DEC 22, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 22, 2019
Ever Wonder What Happens Inside a Clam's Shell?
Most people think of clams as a gooey blob inside of a two-piece shell, but there’s actually a lot more going on inside that shell that you might com...
DEC 31, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 31, 2019
There's More to a Cat's Whiskers Than You Think
Cats may be enjoyable pets, but their true roots go back to incredibly predacious creatures with bodies that have been evolutionarily adapted for hunting p...
JAN 10, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 10, 2020
Are Edibles the Safest Option for Marijuana Users?
Cannabis edibles are growing in popularity, while cannabis products become more widely accepted across the country and beyond. However, it looks like scien...
JAN 17, 2020
Cardiology
JAN 17, 2020
Eating Walnuts Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
Walnuts may be more than just a tasty snack. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that they may also promote healthy gut bacteria, wh...
Loading Comments...