Just in time for the release of the latest Godzilla film, a 300-million-year-old shark that resembles the movie monster was discovered in the Monzano Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Discovered last May by independent paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett, it’s the first North American Ctenacanth, a prehistoric shark most commonly found in Scotland. Ctenacanths generally reached seven to nine feet in length. This one is a female and, while she probably wouldn’t have liked the nickname “Godzilla shark,” it’s well deserved. The dorsal fin spikes are extremely large in relation to the rest of the shark’s body. The teeth are short and wide, unlike the needle-shaped teeth of other sharks from the same era. This shark’s skin was unsuitable for boots as it was covered with tooth-like scales or denticles similar to a Gila monster. Finally, it was up to ten times larger than any other fish found in this location, which means it probably terrorized the rest of the population as it swam through its underwater New York City.
Hodnett recently brought the fossil to the Presbyterian Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, to be examined with a CT scan and have a 3D model made. The scan showed that the shark is an advanced primitive predator, which means it has no present-day descendents.
One unique feature of the creature uncovered by the scan is that its teeth were on the outside of its lips, which may have compensated for a weak jaw by allowing the shark to ram the teeth into its prey rather than sucking food into its open jaw and biting down like today’s sharks. Hodnett speculates what this might look like to other fish.
Imagine a shark face coming at you covered in teeth. It’d be like some horror film 300 million years ago.
If no Mothra or King Kong sharks are found, perhaps the Ctenacanth can star in Godzilla Sharknado.