Here is the shark-eagle: A hitherto unknown (and extinct) species of shark

189380568shark-eagle-new-species-of-shark.jpg

By: Jeet Ghosh

Last Update: 2021-04-01 17:08:53 IST

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Long wing-like fins, with which it swam in the oceans of the Cretaceous period, and one aspect only apparently ferocious: it is the shark-eagle, which lived 93 million years ago.

It was 2012 when in Vallecillo, Mexico, an international team of researchers unearthed the fossil remains of an unfamiliar looking animal ...: almost ten years later, experts discovered that it was a kind of hitherto unknown shark, which swam in the waters of the present Gulf of Mexico 93 million years ago, at the time of the dinosaurs. The shark, scientific name Aquilolamna milarcae, was characterized by long pectoral fins similar to wings, which earned it the name of shark-eagle. Details of the discovery were published in Science.

The fossil remains of the first shark-eagle ever found allowed researchers to reconstruct the appearance of the ancient animal: 1.65 meters long, it had two pectoral fins of almost two meters and a gigantic mouth. From the description it would seem the terror of the oceans of the time, but in reality the A. milarcae did not harm a fly: it was planktivorous, that is, it fed on plankton , a characteristic hypothesized by the researchers given the presence of tiny teeth, too small to being able to bite any more consistent prey.

The discovery of the shark-eagle enriches the Cretaceous fauna with a new category of planktivores: until now, researchers were aware of a single family of animals that ate plankton, the Pachycormidae , a group of extinct bony fish. The Aquilolamnidae therefore become the second family of planktivores of the Cretaceous period, and the eagle shark is (for now) the only representative.

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