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Scientists made the remarkable discovery at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, finding the remains of 15 to 20 different species of sharks deep in the cave.Among the multiple remains was the head of a great white shark which lived an incredible 330 million years ago.At the time, North America was covered by oceans. When they died, their remains were encased in sediment that eventually became the limestone where the cave formed.Paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett said: “I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to see in the cave during my trip.
“When we got to our target specimen my mind was blown.
“There’s hardly ever any record at all of sharks teeth coming from these rocks.
“So that was exciting. So this is a brand new record of sharks from a particular layer of time.”
When Mr Hodnett visited the cave, he had already suspected there would be a skeleton of the shark inside thanks to photos from colleagues.
But it turned out the discovery was actually a huge skull.
He added: “It turns out is actually not a skeleton, it is actually just parts of the head. And the head itself is pretty big.”
Mr Hodnett said he could see the part of the shark’s jaw where it would have attached to the skull and the end that would have been its chin.
Some of the middle of the jaw isn’t visible, but he estimated that it would have been about 2.5 feet long.
Mr Hodnett continued: “It’s super exciting, but not exactly the most easy thing to study.
“Caves are a very special environment, so it’s not ideal to be removing big chunks of rock out of it and damage the the internal environment by doing this.”
Fossils of this kind are usually found in Europe, meaning the find in North America could shed new light on what is known about shark species.
Mr Hodnett said: “We literally just scratched the surface, and the sharks are just coming out from that scratch.
“So, hopefully, with more field work, we’ll get another good batch of specimens to kind of help get at least some more rich diversity.”
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However, the researcher admitted “it’s going to be very hard to bring the appropriate equipment in there to properly excavate the specimen out of the cave”.
The discovery was made in January this year at The Mammoth Cave National Park – the longest cave system known in the world.
In 1968, Indian mummies were found in the caves by researchers.
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