|Life reconstruction of a large Carcharocles angustidens attacking the Miocene dinosaur, Madrynornis. The penguin will escape though. How do I know that? I freaking made the painting. That's how.|
|Tooth from Carcharocles angustidens.|
Carcharocles would have been very similar to a Great White Shark in life if you go off of the teeth. The teeth of Carcharocles are a bit narrower in the middle, however. Carcharocles was likely an open water predator, hunting large prey like fish, small cetaceans (whales and dolphins), penguins, and seals. It likely hunted this prey the same way many large marine predators do, by cruising deeper waters, using its superior senses to target its future meal and ambushing it from below to deliver a crippling bite. Sharks with teeth like Carcharocles' do not have crushing power to dish out damage to prey. (That's more crocodilian style.) Instead, they rely on the extreme sharpness of their teeth, aided by their serrations to slash and cut, removing body parts and causing severe bleeding instead. When you see sharks bite into large food items, you will notice them shake their heads from side to side. This is them using their teeth like the serrations on a knife to cut a bite-sized chunk off. To see this behavior in action by a modern shark, check out the video I linked below from a Shark Week special on Discovery Channel that aired six years ago.
There is some dispute as to exactly how closely related Carcharocles angustidens is to modern Great Whites to the point where some scientists argue it should belong to the Carcharodon genus with them, which would change its full name to Carcharodon angustidens. The very famous, megalodon shark, also belongs to Carcharodon, but some scientists believe it belongs in the Carcharocles genus. See how we went full circle there? Taxonomy is annoying!
That is all for this week! Hope you enjoyed our Shark Week contribution! Just like I said last year, you don't have to stop loving and learning about sharks and science when Shark Week is over! In fact, it's encouraged to keep learning! As always comment below or on our facebook page!
Acosta Hostpitaleche, Carolina, Claudia Tambussi, and Mariano Donato. "A New Miocene Penguin from Patagonia and Its Phylogenetic Relationships." Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 52 (n.d.): 299-314. Print.
Gottfried M.D., Fordyce R.E (2001). "An associated specimen of Carcharodon angustidens (Chondrichthyes, Lamnidae) from the Late Oligocene of New Zealand, with comments on Carcharodon interrelationships". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21 (4): 730–739. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2001)021[0730:AASOCA]2.0.CO;2.