Research Paper Identifies Early Ice Age Shark Teeth In Alabama

| November 13, 2017 @ 5:00 am

By Erin Harney

Sharks have been swimming the oceans for about 400 million years, 200 million years before dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

Today, there are about 400-500 species of shark, “nearly all of which also existed during the Ice Age (2.6 million to 10,000 years ago),” said Jun Ebersole, paleontologist and Director of Collections at McWane Science Center in Birmingham. “Paleontologists are able to identify Ice Age sharks by comparing their teeth to those of their modern-day representatives.”

In a recently published paper, Ebersole, with colleagues Sandy Ebersole, Geologic Investigations Program director at the Geological Survey of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and David Cicimurri, curator of Natural History at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, identified the first early Ice Age shark teeth (2.6 to 2 million years old) found in Alabama. A shallow ocean covered large swaths of Alabama for most of its geologic history, making it “one of the best states in the U.S. to find fossilized shark’s teeth,” said Ebersole. “Although fossil shark teeth have been found in nearly every county in Alabama, these are the first early Ice Age shark teeth to be reported from the state in the scientific literature.”

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