It may not be “Godzilla Shark,” but the official name scientists have given an extinct shark species from 300 million years ago is still pretty cool.
John-Paul Hodnett and other researchers published their findings in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science this week, and said the shark was indeed a new species, according to the Associated Press. They named the 6.7 foot specimen’s species Dracopristis hoffmanorum, or Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, the Associated Press reported.
Hoffman is the last name of the family that owns the land on which the fossil was found in the Manzano Mountains.
Hodnett was a graduate student in 2013 when he uncovered strangely-shaped, fossilized shark’s teeth from 300 million years ago at a dig site near Albuquerque, New Mexico — indicating that Hodnett could have been on the verge of identifying a new ancient species, the Associated Press noted. The species was first nicknamed the “Godzilla Shark” because of its 2.5 foot fin spines. The teeth, instead of being shaped like arrowheads, were relatively wider and shorter, measuring less than an inch long. (RELATED: First-Ever Albino Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Britain)
— Albuquerque Journal (@ABQJournal) April 16, 2021
Hodnett, now a full-fledged paleontologist and serves as Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission’s Dinosaur Park’s program coordinator, said the teeth seemed “Great for grasping and crushing prey rather than piercing prey,” according to the Associated Press. The name, Hoffman’s Dragon Shark, also pays homage to the shark’s interesting jawline, which researchers found reminiscent of a dragon.
The Hoffman’s Dragon Shark is from the genus ctenacanth, which split from modern sharks and rays nearly 400 million years ago and went extinct 60 million years ago, the Associated Press reported. The fossilized specimen is considered by researchers to be the most complete ctenacanth ever discovered, according to the Associated Press.