Researchers from the University of Queensland say they have discovered a new type of tooth that looks like a grey whale.
Key points:Scientists from the university say the new tooth was found in a shark tooth collection from the Australian OutbackResearchers say the teeth look like whale teethThe team say it is likely to be an adult toothThe scientists are now analysing its bones to see how it might have evolved to look like a different animalThe study, published in the journal Palaeontology and Ethology, was carried out by University of Qld researcher Dr Daniel Tait and his team.
Dr Tait said it was a “pretty remarkable discovery” that showed “the potential for the preservation of these ancient teeth”.
“The discovery of this new tooth is exciting, but there’s no doubt it is probably an adult dentition,” he said.
“It’s very interesting because there’s been some suggestion that some species of the genus Megalodon have teeth that are not quite like the teeth of the Megalodonts.”
This is a very interesting discovery and I think we’ll be able to get a clearer picture of how these teeth have evolved.
“Dr Tielts team said it could be that the tooth was a juvenile Megalodo tooth or that it could have been a juvenile tooth that had grown from a tooth and was then lost to time.”
That’s one of the exciting things about this species,” he explained.”
The tooth was probably formed in the teeth from a juvenile that was then removed by a predator.
“If we’re able to reconstruct the evolution of these teeth we can make some pretty interesting guesses about how they may have developed.”
Dr Adam Clements from the Queensland Museum, which carried out the work, said the new teeth could have evolved from other Megalods or possibly from the same species as the one from which it came.
“These are some really intriguing specimens,” he told AAP.
“I think the biggest question is whether they’re Megalosaurus, Megalodeontosaurus, or whether they are an adult or juvenile tooth.”
Dr Clements said the teeth looked “quite like whale tooth” and could help us to better understand how the megafauna of Australia came to be.
“We know that these whales were probably much larger than the Megalosaurids, and that’s because the Megaloofids were living in the southern part of Australia, and they were probably bigger than the dinosaurs,” he added.
“So if we could get a clear idea of the size of these whales and compare that with the Megales, that would tell us whether they were Megalosaurids or Megalosaurs.”
Dr Daniel Tiat is the lead author of the study.
He said the team were hoping to find out more about the teeth, and to identify the individual that may have had them.
“What we found was that the individual’s teeth were fairly large and had developed quite well and were quite similar to other Megalosauroids,” he reported.
“However, their teeth weren’t quite like those of the other Megaloodont species.”
Dr Chris Smith from the Museum of Science and Industry Queensland said he was excited to find “a very rare specimen of an ancient tooth”.
“It was really cool to see a tooth that looked quite like a Megaloid tooth and a tooth similar to an adult Megaloderont,” he shared.
“There’s so much more that we don’t know about these animals and so we really wanted to find a specimen that would shed some light on them.”
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