New Species of Ancient Sharks Discovered in Cave

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is now the location for a new discovery that marks a premiere in science. The fossilized remains of six newfound species of ancient sharks were discovered, and it’s no surprise if we consider the site itself. For the last 10 months, at least 40 different fossilized sharks species have been discovered in various caves within the above-mentioned park.

The six newfound species of sharks include both large predators and small bottom-feeders. 

325 million years old

The diversity of sharks present in the passages that make up Mammoth Cave is astonishing for scientists, as the paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett admits. He also said:

We can hardly move more than a couple of feet as another tooth or spine is spotted in the cave ceiling or wall. We are seeing a range of different species of chondrichthyans [cartilaginous fish] that fill a variety of ecological niches, from large predators to tiny little sharks that lived amongst the crinoid [sea lily] forest on the seafloor that was their habitat.

As Wikipedia tells us, Chondrichthyes is a class that contains cartilaginous fishes: jawed vertebrates having paired nares, paired fins, scales, a heart with chambers in series, and skeletons made of cartilage instead of bone. The class is divided into two categories: Elasmobranchii (rays, skates, sharks, and sawfish) and Holocephali (chimaeras, also called ghost sharks sometimes).

The anatomy of Chondrichthyes is pretty peculiar as well: the skeleton is cartilaginous and the notochord is replaced by a vertebral column during development, except for Holocephali.

The National Park Service (NPS) revealed that the new species will be named in a forthcoming scientific publication. The fact that scientists are still discovering new species on Earth, ancient or not, tells us that we still have a lot more to learn about our planet.

You May Also Like

Cristian Antonescu

About the Author: Cristian Antonescu

With a strong passion for astronomy since he was little and hundreds of articles written about this field, Cristian is a reliable writer who keeps the website up-to-date with news about the wonders of the Universe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.