There is something about seeing the fossilized teeth of the great dinosaurs that gives you goose bumps. To think that eons ago creatures so huge and ferocious roamed the earth freely dominating any environment that they made their own can make you wonder how it would have been to live back then. But we have some pretty ferocious creatures still with us that are descendents of those primitive beasts. Some very common species that descended directly from their dinosaur ancestors are still common in nature. Two of the most prominent are the alligator or crocodile and the shark.
The teeth of prehistoric sharks reveal that these frightening creatures were such huge killing machines that they make our modern great white shark look like a goldfish. During the times of the dinosaurs, the sharks dominated the seas so much that up to 60% of the population of the oceans were sharks. Today that percentage sits at about 3%. So while some catechism whipped out much of the traditional dinosaur population, the sharks survived although in smaller numbers than when they ruled the seas.
There are reproductions of actual fossilized shark jaws on display in some natural history museums propped open that are so large that an entire family including dad and mom could stand upright in the open mouth of one of these huge sharks. The variety of sharks that lived in the earth’s oceans in the time of the dinosaurs was much more diverse than today. There was even a species of flying shark that could leave the water entirely to hunt or to get away from an enemy. If sharks today could fly out of the water, odds are nobody would be willing to go out on a whale watching cruise.
By far the most amazing shark that lived during prehistoric time was the Megalodon, a shark that could grow to the size of a city bus and weigh more than seven or eight tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs. These sharks were so hungry and unstoppable that they made meals out of whales and other large sharks. They were beasts that could make our great white sharks afraid to go into the water.
The sea was always a very good agent to preserve fossils for our study. And because the seas have receded and changed shapes, we are finding fossils of shark teeth and bones at inland fossil digs all the time. It’s a lot of fun to go to natural history museum to look on with awe, wonder and a little bit of fear at the huge teeth that these sharks used to hunt their pray. Such a field trip can really open your eyes and the eyes of the students in your family or class about the diversity of life that existed on this planet way back when in the days of the dinosaur.