Paleontologists Discovered a 360 Million-Year-Old Shark That Looks Like an Eel

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Paleontologists Discovered a 360 Million-Year-Old Shark That Looks Like an Eel

 

With more than 500 species of shark in our oceans, it’s a bit surprising to learn that researchers rarely find shark fossils. This is because they deteriorate much faster since their bones are made of cartilage, which is much weaker than solid bone. However, a group of paleontologists has unearthed not only an exceptionally well-preserved fossil of a shark but also a rare one. 

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

While working in eastern Morocco, paleontologists discovered several skulls and an almost complete skull from two species of Phoebodus. Phoebodus is an interesting find, not only because it is a very primitive shark but also because it looks nothing like the sharks we already knew about. Instead, it looks more like an eel. The skeletons were well-preserved due to the location where they died. According to the researchers, the shallow sea basin where they were found has limited water circulation and low oxygen levels. This prevented the bodies from being picked off by scavengers, eroded by sea currents, or consumed by bacteria.

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

All That’s Interesting, a site for curious people who want to know more about what they see on the news or read in history books, reported that the Phoebodus had an elongated, eel-like body with a long snout. This made the species the only known jawed vertebrate of its time to have an “anguilliform body shape.” In an interview, the study’s co-author Linda Frey from the Palaeontological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich said, “Although the shark Phoebodus was known from plenty of teeth material for decades, skeletons were completely absent before our recent discoveries.”

 

Photo Credit: All That's Interesting

 

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, it was reported that the shark Phoebodus has a modern-day shark that shares its distinct serpent look – the frilled shark or Chlamydoselachus anguineus. The species is found in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans but difficult to observe closely. “The frilled shark is a specialized predator, with the ability to suddenly burst forward to catch its prey,” said modern shark expert David Ebert.

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