The 300 million-year-old relative of the shark, nicknamed the Godzilla shark after its discovery in 2013, has finally got a name of its own. By the way, the jaws of this individual are very different from all living sharks.
Paleontologists have discovered an unusually complete and well-preserved 2-meter-long fossilized ancient shark skeleton at a private site in the Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico. Among the prominent features of the skeleton are rows of sharp teeth in strong, powerful jaws, and a pair of spike-like fins on the back.
The new species was nicknamed the Godzilla shark because of its size. Its skeleton is the largest of its kind ever found in the region. In addition, she owes her nickname due to the reptilian nature of the thorns on her back.
The shark is now officially named Dracopristis hoffmanorum – Hoffman’s dragon shark – after the family that owned the land where the skeleton was found. And also as a tribute to her monstrous, reptilian appearance.
Scientists note that it is very rare to find skeletal material of ancient sharks, let alone a complete collection of bones, which retained the outline of the body and other imprints of soft tissue.
Hoffman’s dragon shark belonged to a group of mysterious ancient sharks known as the ktenakantha. They split from modern sharks and rays about 390 million years ago during the Devonian period. The perfectly preserved skeleton has allowed researchers to learn more about this little-studied group.
One of the biggest differences between ctenacanths and modern sharks is their jaws. In fossil species, they are much larger and more firmly attached to the skull.