As Godzilla stomps his way into movie theaters, capturing the imagination of viewers, an independent scientist stumbled upon the fossils of a mammoth-sized shark that once had a reign of terror over the oceans. The 300 million year old fossil found in the Manzano Mountains near Albuquerque, New Mexico has been appropriately named the Godzilla shark.
The independent researcher, who is associated with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and also has ties to Northern Arizona University, recently found the shark fossils when he was on a trip in the Manzano Mountains and stumbled upon on the nose of the shark embedded in the rocks. He deemed it a significant discovery mainly due to its size. It was not until further analysis was done that he realized how significant the find actually was.
Analysis of the remains of the shark offer answers as to how it survived 300 million years ago. Experts put the fossil in a CT scanning machine to get X-ray images of the creature. According to Discovery News, a CT scan shows the Godzilla shark had sharp teeth on its lips. The scan was performed at the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho. This changed the way scientists viewed the sea creature that existed as a Ctenacanth, which have been extinct over 130 million years.
John-Paul Hodnett, the paleontologist who discovered the mammoth shark fossil in 2013, compared the Godzilla shark to the modern shark that people are more familiar with. The sharks roaming the ocean today suck in their prey before using the sharp teeth inside their mouths to eat it. On the other hand, “these primitive sharks had to ram their jaws into their prey,” he said. They would have to kill their prey first by jabbing their jaws at the prey and then devouring it.
When compared to average sized fish from the era, which was under a foot long, the Godzilla shark would have terrorized them by its sheer size alone. The fossil indicates that this species was between seven and nine feet long, making it the ideal predator. This was the first Ctenacanth shark fossil of its kind to be found in North America.
The species has been named the Godzilla shark for several reasons. The outer layer of the body is scaly and resembles that of a large reptile, it has sharp teeth, the dorsal fin spines are vastly larger than any of the other sharks that lived at the same time and it is massive in size, much like that of Godzilla from science fiction movies. The big difference is that the Godzilla shark is more than a fictional character.
While the CT scan has been useful in learning more about the 300 million year old extinct sea creature, it may prove more useful as scientists use the scans to create a 3D model of the Godzilla shark. Meanwhile, Hodnett intends on eventually proudly putting the fossil on display at the museum. He said, “Being a shark expert, this is a dream come true for me.”
By Tracy Rose