330-million-year-old shark fossils found in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (Source: WBKO)
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky (Source: WBKO)(NBC15)
Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 8:35 PM CST
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Inside Mammoth Cave in Kentucky you might expect to see bats or spiders, but what about sharks?

A recent discovery shows the cave was at one point a very popular place for sharks.

Officials told NBC15 sister station Channel 13 News they knew shark teeth were noted to be found inside the cave, but they never knew the significance of the fossils.

"330 million years ago this part of Kentucky was under the ocean," said Rick Toomey, Cave Specialist and Research Coordinator at Mammoth Cave National Park.

Toomey says they submitted a picture of the shark teeth to be featured in an exhibit, which led to a paleontologist coming to study the fossils in Mammoth Cave.

In November, Paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett discovered large shark's teeth and shark cartilage in the limestone walls of the cave.

"We're starting to get a picture of that ocean because we are starting to find out more and more about all those sharks that were living in that ocean at that time," said Toomey.

Officials say the shark cartilage is thought to be from a shark called saivodus striatus and there is no known fossil record of it anywhere in the world.

Since the discovery, Cave Specialists Rick Olson and Rick Toomey, along with Hodnett, have found hundreds more shark's teeth.

They also learned the shark's teeth are not all from the same type of shark, they believe there are ten or more species of shark inside the cave.