Rare shark fossil unearthed near Pocatello

Rare shark fossil unearthed near Pocatello

Credit: Leif Tapanila

Prof. Leif Tapanila studies ancient shark fossils at Idaho State University in Pocatello.

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by Associated Press

KTVB.COM

Posted on October 1, 2012 at 3:24 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 10:30 PM

POCATELLO, Idaho -- A mining crew has unearthed the latest piece of fossil evidence of what life was like in Idaho more than 250 million years ago.

Last week, a Monsanto Co. crew operating at a phosphate mine in southeast Idaho discovered an array of fossilized teeth buried in a heap of deposits.

Scientists say the shark's unique jaw strongly resembles the shape of a circular saw.

The Idaho State Journal reports the fossil was later identified by an Idaho State University professor Leif Tapanila and linked to a prehistoric shark called Helicoprion. The sharks roamed the seas that once covered southeastern Idaho and neighboring Wyoming and Utah.

Tapanila says the spiral-shaped fossil is likely the only evidence of the shark's presence since it's body was made mostly of cartilage.

The ISU Museum of Natural History is home to 29 of the 100 known Helicoprion fossils.

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