Giant teenage shark from dinosaur era identified by vertebral remains

Scientists at the University of Vienna studied parts of the spinal column found in northern Spain in 1996. It turned out that he belongs to the extinct group of sharks Ptychodontidae. A study by scientists led by Professor Patrick Jambura is published in the journal Plos.

In 1996, paleontologists discovered the remains of a giant shark on the northern coast of Spain, near the city of Santander. Here, the coast consists of many-meter limestone walls, which were deposited during the Cretaceous about 85 million years ago. At the same time, thanks to the analysis of the teeth, the scientists were able to establish that the shark belonged to the extinct group Ptychodontidae, however, the age and size of the creature could not be determined then.

Unlike teeth, shark vertebrae carry biological information such as body size, height, and age. It remains in the form of tree rings inside the vertebra, as in a tree trunk. Statistical methods and comparison with existing species allowed scientists to decipher this data.

It turned out that the shark was about 30 years old, which is very small for such animals, and its size exceeded 7 m – which, on the contrary, is very large for sharks of this species. At the same time, it remains unclear why this animal died, scientists say.

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