Home News ‘Godzilla shark’: 300 million-year-old fossil found in New Mexico
News - April 16, 2021

‘Godzilla shark’: 300 million-year-old fossil found in New Mexico

A illustration of Dracopristis hoffmanorum or “Godzilla Shark” found in New Mexico. (courtesy Jesse Pruitt/NMMNHS)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A group of researchers from a number of establishments dubbed a 6.7-foot-long shark that lived 300 million years in the past “Godzilla Shark” after discovering a fossilized skeleton within the Manzano Mountains about 30 miles southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In line with the New Mexico Museum of Pure Historical past & Science (NMMNHS), the whole skeleton of the shark named Dracopristis hoffmanorum was found and recognized to have 12 rows of tooth together with two, 2.5-foot-long fin spines on its again.

A press launch from NMMNHS states that the options of the shark, which was present in Could, 2013, resulted in its fashionable nickname. The museum says the title Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, acknowledges the creature’s Godzilla-like traits because it’s the most important fish discovered on the website to this point and has giant jaws and spines. The title additionally honors the Hoffman household who owns the land the place the shark fossil was collected.

The Museum stories {that a} group of scientists who had been collaborating in a scientific assembly at NMMNHS visited the mountains to study in regards to the rocks in addition to fossils of the late Pennsylvanian Interval vegetation and animals preserved there.

Paleontologist and program coordinator of the Maryland-Nationwide Capital Parks and Planning Fee’s Dinosaur Park, John-Paul Hodnett, who was a graduate pupil on the time, made the invention.

“I used to be simply sitting in a shady spot utilizing a pocket knife to separate and shift via the shaley limetones, not discovering a lot besides fragments of vegetation and some fish scales, when immediately I hit one thing that was a pit denser,” acknowledged Hodnett within the press launch. “At first, I believed what was flipped over was the cross part of a limb bone, which was thrilling as no tetrapod had been discovered at that website earlier than.”

A group from NMMNHS was in a position to expose extra of the fossil whereas the remainder of the assembly contributors returned to the museum. In line with the press launch, the following day Hodnett was informed by the museum fossil preparatory that the creature wasn’t a tetrapod however a big shark.

Curator of paleontology at NMMNHS Dr. Spencer Lucas urged Hodnett to analysis the fossil which was decided to be probably the most full ctenacanth shark fossil to be found in North America. The museum stories that the next seven years had been spent working within the preparation lab with a view to clear and stabilize the fossil, analysis the invention and examine it to different sharks. Hodnett’s group was in a position to establish it as a brand new type of ctenacanth shark.

A CT scan of the fossil by Presbyterian Rust Medical Heart in Rio Rancho aided analysis across the discovery.

In line with the museum, the shark’s giant dorsal fin spines had been used as a deterrent in opposition to bigger predators. “In the identical rocks that yielded the fossil of Dracopristis, we have now discovered tooth of a bigger shark referred to as Glikmanius, which is understood virtually worldwide right now, and it might have been a big and harmful predator,” stated Hodnett within the press launch.

The museum defined that the skeleton gives a brand new take a look at how ctenacanths fall within the household tree of sharks. Moreover, NMMNHS states that Dracopristis and different ctenacanth sharks show a person evolutionary department of sharks that break up off from the fashionable sharks and rays about 390 million years in the past however that went extinct by the top of the Paleozoic Period about 252 million years in the past.

The analysis group was made up of Hodnett, Eileen D. Grogan and Richard Lund of St. Joseph’s College in Pennsylvania, Spencer G. Lucas, Curator of Paleontolgy at NMMNHS, Tom Suazo, former fossil preparator at NMMNHS, David Ok. Elliot of Northern Arizona College and Jesse Pruitt of Idaho State College and was assisted by NMMNHS.

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