A species of flat-toothed shark that lived millions of years ago was identified for the first time in northeastern Colombia from numerous fossils, reported one of the researchers in charge of the discovery. The species named ‘Strophodusrebecae’ was found in the municipality of Zapatoca, department of Santander.
Studies reveal that it lived 135 million years ago, measured between 4 and 5 meters and had teeth similar to dominoes, which were used to crush food, rather than to cut and tear as in the case of sharks today. of sharp teeth, according to the investigation.
Paleontologists Edwin Cadena, from the Universidad del Rosario, and Jorge Carrillo, from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, worked for nearly 10 years in the area to make the discovery. “There are many individuals, fossils found at different points around the Zapatoca area, which together we are sure belong to the same species”,Cadena explained.
In addition, it is the first record of a fish of the Strophodus family in the southern hemisphere of the planet then known as Gondwana, which was made up of South America, Africa, Australia, India and Antarctica. “There are records of the same genus in North America and Europe, particularly in Germany and Switzerland (…) but this is the first record we have of that entire group of sharks for the southern part of the planet at that time”, Cadena said.
The discovery allows us to study what the ecosystem of the Cretaceous sea of Colombia was like, the predators and prey that inhabited it. “These sharks very surely had an important ecological role because with their teeth they could crush prey such as fish, but also invertebrates, and in turn serve as prey for large reptiles that were in that environment, generating an ecological control of the ecosystem,” Cadena said.
The fossils are at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá and are part of its paleontological collection, while a museum is being built in Zapatoca with the conditions to exhibit them. The scientific journal PeerJ published the Colombian research. Similarly, Cadena also discovered in 2020 the first fossils of a pterosaur in the country, flying reptiles from the Mesozoic Era that became famous with the movie Jurassic Park.