150-million-year-old shark fossil unearthed in Germany
A team of paleontologists in Germany have unearthed a well-preserved shark fossil believed to be more than 150 million-years-old.
The team from Austria and Switzerland located the remains in the limestones of Solnhofen, about 126 kilometres north of Munich.
The University of Vienna's Dr Sebastian Stumpf said the fossil is that of a Hybodontiform shark (Asteracanthus ornatissimus), which survived two of the big five Phanerozoic mass extinctions 361 million-years-ago before finally becoming extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period about 66 million-years-ago.
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"Their body size ranged from a few centimetres to approximately three metres in maximum length, which consequently makes Asteracanthus one of the largest representatives of both its group and its time," Dr Stumpf said in a report submitted to the journal Papers in Paleontology.
"In contrast, modern sharks and rays, which were already diverse during the Jurassic, only reached a body size of up to two metres in maximum length in very rare cases."
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While the Asteracanthus was scientifically described more than 180 years ago by Swiss-American naturalist Louis Agassiz, who examined the fossil of just an isolated dorsal fin spine, this is believed to be the the first time articulated fossil remains have been found, according to Dr Stumpf.
His team say the Asteracanthus had more than 150 teeth and was an active predator feeding on a variety of animals.