A team of paleontologists, cave specialists and park rangers at Mammoth Cave National Park discovered fossil treasures that yielded one of the most diverse Mississippian shark faunas in North America. At least 40 different species of sharks and their relatives have been identified, including six new species.
The discoveries in remote cave locations within the park were made during an ongoing paleontological resources inventory. Mammoth Cave is known for a variety of ice age mammal fossils as well as ancient marine organisms.
The 325 million-year-old fossil-rich limestones of the cave system were formed during a time period known to geologists as the Mississippian Period.
The park staff reported a few fossil shark teeth exposed in the cave walls in several locations. A fossil shark specialist was recruited to help identify the items, which were primarily teeth and fin spines.
The six new species will be described and named in a forthcoming scientific publication.