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Paleontologists have described a new species of the extinct genus of lamniform sharks paleohipotodus Based on 17 fossilized teeth found in Alabama, United States.

The fossilized teeth of Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi.  Image credit: Ebersole et al., doi: 10.3897/fr.27.e112800.

The fossilized teeth of Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi. Image credit: Ebersole et al., doi: 10.3897/fr.27.e112800.

paleohipotodus “It is an extinct genus of lamniform shark that supposedly has a temporal range that extends from the Upper Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) to the Upper Eocene (Priabonian), and isolated teeth have been reported in very disparate localities around the world,” said Dr. Jun Ebersole, director of collections at McWane Science Center, and colleagues.

“Three species are recognized within the genus, including the one from the Cretaceous Palaeohypotodus bronniand the Paleogene Palaeohypotodus according to is and Palaeohypotodus rutoti.”

“These species are characterized by robust teeth that have a combination of erect to strongly distally hooked crown, smooth cutting edges, one or more pairs of lateral cusps, and distinctive plications along the labial crown of the foot.”

paleohipotodus “It is known primarily from isolated teeth, but at least one partially associated skeleton has been reported.”

The newly identified species, Palaeohypotodus bizzocoilived approximately 65 million years ago (Paleocene period).

A collection of 17 teeth belonging to the species was recently found in the historical collections of the Alabama Geological Survey in Tuscaloosa.

The specimens were derived from the Porters Creek Formation of Wilcox County, Alabama.

“A few years ago, I was going through the Alabama Geological Survey’s historical fossil collections and found a small box of shark teeth that were collected over 100 years ago in Wilcox County,” Dr. Ebersole said.

“Having documented hundreds of species of fossil fish over the past decade, I found it puzzling that these teeth were from a shark I didn’t recognize.”

Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi It was a leading predator during the time when the oceans were recovering from the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous.

“In Alabama, much of the southern half of the state was covered by shallow tropical and subtropical oceans during the Paleocene,” said Dr. T. Lynn Harrell, Jr., paleontologist and curator of fossil collections at the Alabama Geological Survey. . .

“This time period has not been sufficiently studied, which makes the discovery of this new species of shark that much more significant.”

“Shark discoveries like this give us tremendous information about how ocean life recovers after major extinction events and also allow us to potentially predict how global events, such as climate change, affect current marine life.”

As part of their study, the authors compared fossil teeth from Palaeohypotodus bizzocoi to those of several living sharks, such as the great white shark and the mako shark.

“By studying the jaws and teeth of living sharks, it allowed us to reconstruct the dentition of this ancient species and showed that it had a tooth arrangement that differed from that of any living shark,” said Dr. David Cicimurri, curator of history. natural at South Carolina State Museum.

TO paper The description of the discovery was published in the journal. fossil record.


JA Ebersole et al. 2024. A new species of paleohipotodus Glickman, 1964 (Chondrichthyes, Lamniformes) from the Lower Paleocene Porters Creek Formation (Danian), Wilcox County, Alabama, USA. fossil record 27 (1): 111-134; doi:10.3897/fr.27.e112800

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