A new prehistoric shark, Diablodontus michaeledmundi aka "Devil-Tooth," has been found in a chunk of Flagstaff, Ariz., limestone.
The shark must have been super tough, as its species survived the world's biggest extinction event (the Permian-Triassic extinction).
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Devil Tooth not only had wickedly shark teeth, it also sported head spikes that gave it a devilish appearance. The spikes either evolved for defense or for sexual selection. In other words, the spikes must have turned on members of the opposite sex, similar to how horns of some animals today catch the eyes of potential mates.
The shark, discovered in what is known as the Kaibab Formation of Arizona, represents a new extinct genus and species. It is described in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin.
This particular Devil Tooth individual lived about 260 million years ago. Lead author John-Paul Hodnett, a Northern Arizona University post-graduate, told me that Devil Tooth was a hybodont, or hump-toothed, shark. Hybodonts were an "extinct group of sharks that were close kin to modern sharks," he said. "Hybodont sharks evolved during the late Paleozoic (approximately 300 million years ago) and miraculously survived the Permian-Triassic extinction event (approximately 252 million years ago) into the Mesozoic (the age of reptiles)," Hodnett continued.