Acta Palaeontologica Polonica

The oldest fossil record of the megamouth shark from the late Eocene of Denmark and comments on the enigmatic megachasmid origin

Kenshu Shimada and David J. Ward

Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 61 (4), 2016: 839-845 doi:

The megamouth shark (Lamniformes: Megachasmidae) has sporadic occurrences both in the present-day oceans and in the fossil record. In this paper, we describe a new megachasmid, Megachasma alisonae sp. nov., on the basis of a morphologically distinct tooth collected from the Pyt Member of the late Eocene Søvind Marl Formation at Moesgård Strand in Denmark, that represents the geologically oldest known Megachasma. The tooth likely came from an individual that measured somewhere between 1.3 and 3.5 m long, and its morphology and chipped cusp tips suggest that it possibly fed on macro-zooplankton and small fishes that had hard skeletal components. Its occurrence in the mid-Priabonian Pyt Member at least suggests that the shark inhabited a relatively deep, open marine environment about 36 Ma ago. This Eocene specimen is significant because it illustrates the dental condition of early megachasmids, which is distinctively odontaspidid-like morphologically.

Kenshu Shimada [], Department of Environmental Science and Studies and Department of Biological Sciences, DePaul University, 2325 North Clifton Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60614, USA; Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas 67601, USA. David J. Ward [], Department of Earth Sciences, The Natural History Museum, London, SW7 5BD, UK.

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