Updated: September 17, 2021 2:42:03 am
Researchers from the Geological Survey of India and the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee have discovered a new extinct species of hybodont shark from the Jaisalmer Basin of Rajasthan. Hybodonts dominated both marine and freshwater environments during the Triassic and early Jurassic periods.
Over 30 teeth specimens collected from the region showed that the species lived about 160 and 168 million years ago. It was named Strophodus jaisalmerensis, and the discovery is significant as this is the first record of Strophodus genus from the Indian subcontinent.
The collected specimens are now housed in the Palaeontology Division of Geological Survey of India, Jaipur.
“The structure of the teeth was very peculiar. We studied the crown, its ridges, edges and based on the distinctive crushing teeth, it was included in the genus Strophodus,” explains Dr. Sunil Bajpai, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. He is one of the corresponding authors of the paper recently published in Historical Biology.
The team compared the teeth characteristics with other extinct species such as S.magnus, S. smithwoodwardi, S. subreticulatus, S. reticulatus, S. longidens and finally confirmed that the teeth indeed belonged to a new species.
“It is speculated that hybodont sharks could have grown about 2-3 metres long. They became extinct about 65 million years ago, probably due to competition from other fishes including sharks. It is interesting to note that dinosaurs also went extinct 65 million years ago. It is not clear if these two extinctions are related,” he adds.
He explains that Jaisalmer is a treasure trove of marine fossils, especially invertebrates. The hybodont fossil-bearing region also had a lot of fossil wood, suggesting a vegetation-rich coastal environment.
“More studies can help unravel the extinct marine life of the region. We are continuing excavations,” said Dr Bajpai.