Waters off of France and the U.K. were once teeming with sharks, many of which would have looked like today's range of shark species.
Samples of Late Cretaceous rock from the region turned up remains of 96 different types of prehistoric sharks, 18 of which represent new species, a paper in the Journal of Systematic Paleontology reports.
The sharks lived from 100 to 72 million years ago, but many looked like modern sharks.
"If you were to see a Cretaceous shark, I am pretty sure that it would look no different from one in an aquarium," senior author David Ward of The Natural History Museum in London told Discovery News. "Shark body design stabilized about 140 million years ago and, other than a few families that have suffered from extinction, remains the same now."
Lead author Guillaume Guinot, a researcher at the Natural History Museum in Switzerland, added that many of the identified fossil species have somewhat similar living representatives, such as today's angel sharks, carpetsharks, bullhead sharks, catsharks, cowsharks, dogfish sharks, sandtiger sharks and houndsharks. These are not direct relatives of the extinct sharks, however.