This rare fossil find comes from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation in England, a series of sedimentary rocks that formed in a shallow tropical-subtropical sea during the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago. The fossil shark skeleton was found over 20 years ago on the south coast of England and is now in the Etches collection. Other fossil shark specimens will be studied in the years to come.
Due to their lifelong dental replacement, shark teeth are among the most common vertebrate finds in the fossil record. The low conservation potential of their poorly mineralized cartilaginous skeletons, on the other hand, prevents fossilization of completely preserved specimens in most cases.
The new study published in the journal PeerJ and led by Sebastian Stumpf of the University of Vienna now presents the fossil skeleton of a new ancient shark from the Kimmeridge clay formation in England, a sequence of fossil-bearing rocks that formed during the Late Jurassic in a shallow subtropical tropical sea.
The new shark fossil, about 150 million years old, is attributed to a previously unknown genus and species of hybodontiform sharks, Durnonovariaodus maiseyi. This extremely rare fossil find was made almost 20 years ago on the south coast of England and is now preserved and kept in the Etches Collection, which houses one of the most scientifically significant fossil collections in England .
Hybodontiform sharks are one of the most species-rich groups of extinct sharks and represent the closest relatives of modern sharks. They first appeared during the Late Devonian, around 361 million years ago, and disappeared with the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous, around 66 million years ago. The new genus and species Durnonovariaodus maiseyi differs from all other hybodontiform sharks previously described, including those characterized by similarly shaped teeth. “Durnonovariaodus maiseyi represents an important source of information for better understanding the diversity of sharks in the past as well as for new interpretations of the evolution of hybodontiform sharks, whose relationships are still poorly understood, even after more than 150 years of research “says Stumpf.
The scientific importance of Kimmeridge’s clay formation is underscored by additional, but still undescribed, hybodontiform shark skeletons which are also kept in the Etches collection. Research on fossil sharks from the Kimmeridge clay formation in England, which will continue in the years to come, will certainly contain more surprises to be discovered.
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