Dinosaurs were not the only formidable creatures that called North America their home millions of years ago. The recent discovery of sharp, fossilized teeth in rocks left over from excavations in the 1990s has led scientists to declare a new, long-dead shark species, Smithsonian reports.
Terry Gates, a professor at North Carolina State University, led the study, which was published in the Journal of Paleontology and named the Haiart Galagadon nordquistae after their triangular teeth, by which he believed to be similar in shape to the battleships in the video game Galaga . The second part of the name pays homage to Karen Nordquist, the retired chemist and volunteer at the Chicago Field Museum, who took the fossils first.
Galagadon lived in what we now know as the South Dakota Hell Creek Formation, an area known for its rocks and fossils dating back to the Cretaceous at least 65 million years ago. It is the same place where scientists excavated Sue the T.rex ̵
The excavation that led to Sue's discovery in 1990 made this last find possible. The sediment that enveloped Sue's bone, called the matrix, was removed and stored in an underground unit of the field museum. Scientists and museum staff have recently started looking for smaller fossils.
Shingles consist mainly of cartilage, which deteriorates over time. But the tiny teeth, only a millimeter wide, helped the scientists figure out what the shark looked like. " Galagadon was less than 2 feet long – it's not exactly Jaws," said Pete Makovicky, one of the authors of the study, in a statement.
It is believed that the species resembles bamboo sharks today can be found in Southeast Asia and Australia. This connection surprised the researchers, who now question their understanding of the area where Sue was found to be a lake formed from a partially dried river. However, this latest discovery suggests that "there must have been some connection with the marine environment," says Makovicky.