Researchers have discovered fossil proof that not less than one shark within the Cretaceous age caught its meals — a flying reptile — in midair.
The fossil, saved on the Los Angeles County Pure Historical past Museum, exhibits a tooth from a big Cretoxyrhina mantelli shark lodged between the neck vertebrae of a Pteranodon, a flying reptile that lived from the Triassic interval to the Cretaceous.
College of Southern California scientists who noticed the bones printed their findings on Friday within the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ.
The assessment defined that whereas interactions between the flying reptile and different fish, together with sharks, have been recorded earlier than, “till now interactions between Cretoxyrhina and Pteranodon have remained elusive.”
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“Are there sharks at the moment that hunt seabirds? Sure, there are,” Michael Habib, a co-author of the research, instructed Phys.org. “Is that distinctive, or have large sharks been looking flying creatures for hundreds of thousands of years? The reply is sure, they’ve. We now know sharks had been looking flying animals as way back as 80 million years.”
The fossil was excavated within the 1960s however hadn’t been studied till lately. Scientists had been intrigued by the tooth, as it is the “first documented incidence of this massive shark interacting with any pterosaur.”
The researchers mentioned it is “not doable to deduce” whether or not the interplay between the shark and the flying reptile was for scavenging functions, or if it represented predatory conduct.
“We all know large sharks ate pterosaurs, so let’s imagine a giant quick predatory species may very effectively have eaten this Pteranodon when it entered the water, however we’ll in all probability by no means know precisely,” Habib mentioned.