DISCOVERY: Odd-Looking Sharks Once Patrolled the ‘Oceans’ of KY
Don't ever fail to conduct a thorough examination of the walls and the ceilings (if they're close enough) of Mammoth Cave. They are replete with life forms from millions of years ago. It's a veritable fossilized gold mine.
My memories of the world's longest cave aren't great; I was a child the last time I was inside of it. But, in addition to laughing at Dad trying to get through "Fat Man's Misery" and marveling at blind fish, I was mesmerized by an ancient world that had left its mark in the modern era. Fossils are everywhere; you just have to know where to look. Certainly, a guide helps.
Shark 'Discoveries' in Kentucky
Recently, scientists have discovered species of sharks that once patrolled Kentucky's "oceans." Yes, we're talking hundreds of millions of years ago. Back in 2020, paleontologists celebrated the discovery of an entire jaw cartilage that once belonged to an ancient shark species.
Three months ago, they once again popped the champagne cork over the discovery of an ancient shark species that might put you in the mind of a stingray.
The Newest Shark Fossil Discoveries at Kentucky's Mammoth Cave
And just within the past couple of weeks, two MORE ancient species were identified via the discovery of fossilized teeth. May I present troglocladodus trimblei, named after park superintendent Barclay Trimble, and glikmanius careforum, named for the Cave Research Foundation (CRF)?
It's difficult to imagine sharks as apex predators in Kentucky, but these extraordinary discoveries certainly do open up the imagination, don't they? Especially when you see the following description from the National Park Service:
The two sharks identified would have hunted the ancient near-shore habitats that covered Kentucky and Alabama over 325 million years ago. The area was once an ancient seaway that connected what is now eastern North America, Europe, and northern Africa, but would later disappear as the super continent Pangea formed.
If NOTHING else, the science of paleontology reinforces how little time we actually ARE on this planet. Who knew fossilized shark remain could be such a motivator?
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Gallery Credit: Nicole Caldwell