New Mexico Paleontologist Describes Finding a New Species of ‘Godzilla Shark’
According to J.P. Hodnett, the 300-million-year-old shark was an entirely new species. And not only is the ancient shark massive, but it also looks different than its contemporary counterparts.
A few years ago, young paleontologist J.P. Hodnett was on a dig in New Mexico when he found evidence of a terrifying-sounding creature nicknamed “Godzilla shark.” "Oh my God, what did I find?" he recalls saying to himself when he came across the large fish. And understandably so.
“I was using a little pocket knife, and I was digging around, and I flipped this piece of shale. And what it looked like to me initially was kind of the outline of a bone. And like I said, I'd been working on teeth most of my career at that point. So looking at cartilage was something kind of new to me,” he added.
The 300-million-year-old shark was an entirely new species, and though it only measured 7-feet long, it loomed over everything else.
“I know it doesn't sound giant, but it is the biggest vertebrate animal, so any animal with a backbone, ever found at the fossil site we found it at," J.P. said. “Up until that point, the largest animal there was another shark was only about a foot long. Everything else barely reaches six inches in length. So this is a giant animal compared to the rest of its ecosystem. So this is a very Godzilla-like creature to everything else that lived with.”
J.P points out that not only is the ancient shark massive, but it also looks different than its contemporary counterparts. “It has kind of a large head. It doesn't have a long nose. It's actually kind of blunt-faced, essentially. Probably has kind of smaller eyes but had really powerful jaws. And going from back from the head, actually, on the dorsal fins, which it had two, there are two-and-a-half foot-long spines. “
Although the paleontologist doesn’t know much about the Godzilla shark, he’s able to make some pretty good guesses as to how it behaved in its ecosystem.
“This was probably a slow-moving animal. And what actually also was really weird, which made it a unique species, is that the end of the tail, the lower lobe, so it was kind of like a bi-lobe, kind of like a two-fin type thing, this is lower lobe right here. It stuck straight out from the back.”
J.P. explains that this new shark is similar to an angel shark and probably hunted in a similar way. “So sharks that have that feature, things like angel sharks, the angel sharks that are alive today. They cruise the bottom of lagoons. So this was telling us that the Godzilla shark probably cruised on the bottom of the sea and was probably an ambush predator. “
Recently, the shark finally got its own proper name. It’s formally known as Dracopristis Hoffmanorum. Still, “Godzilla shark” is more fun. And although the two existed at different times, J.P. answered the question many want to know: who would win in a Megalodon vs. Godzilla shark battle?
“I'm sure a Megalodon would swallow the Godzilla shark easily, but because it also has giant spines on the dorsal fins of this thing, it would probably die from indigestion from swallowing the Godzilla shark," he said. "So it would still take out a Megalodon, but just from the inside out.”
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