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Squalicorax

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squalicorax

Squalicorax (Wikimedia Commons)

Name:

Squalicorax (Greek for "crow shark"); pronounces SKWA-lih-CORE-ax

Habitat:

Oceans worldwide

Historical Period:

Middle-Late Cretaceous (105-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 15 feet long and 500-1,000 pounds

Diet:

Marine animals

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Medium size; sharp, triangular teeth

 

About Squalicorax:

As with most prehistoric sharks, Squalicorax is known today mainly by its fossilized teeth, which endured much better in the fossil record than its easily degraded cartilaginous skeleton. But those teeth--large, sharp and triangular--tell an amazing story: Squalicorax had a worldwide distribution, and it seems to have preyed on every kind of marine animal, as well as any terrestrial creatures unlucky enough to fall into the water.

Evidence has been found of Squalicorax attacking (if not actually eating) the fierce mosasaurs of the late Cretaceous period, as well as turtles and giant-sized prehistoric fish. The most amazing recent discovery is of the foot bone of an unidentified hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) bearing the unmistakable imprint of a Squalicorax tooth. This would be the first direct evidence of a Mesozoic shark preying on dinosaurs, though other genera of the time undoubtedly feasted on dinosaurs as well.

 

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