Navigation Links
Details of ancient shark attack preserved in fossil whale bone

A fragment of whale rib found in a North Carolina strip mine is offering scientists a rare glimpse at the interactions between prehistoric sharks and whales some 3- to 4-million years ago during the Pliocene.

Three tooth marks on the rib indicate the whale was once severely bitten by a strong-jawed animal. Judging by the 6 centimeter spacing between tooth marks, scientists believe the attacker was a mega toothed shark Carcharocles megalodon, or perhaps another species of large shark which was alive at that time. The whale appears to have been an ancestor of a great blue or humpback.

"One certainly doesn't expect to find evidence of animal behavior preserved in the fossil record, but this fossil shows just that, a failed predation," explains Stephen Godfrey, paleontologist at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Md. and a Smithsonian research collaborator, who discovered the fossil. "The shark may have gone away with a mouthful, but it didn't kill the whale"

Scientists know the whale survived because "most of the fossil fragment is covered with a type of bone known as woven bone, which forms rapidly in response to localized infection," explains Don Ortner, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and authority on the effect of disorders on skeletal tissue. "Biomechanically woven bone is not very strong. The body eventually remodels it into compact bone, but it takes time." CT scans reveal evidence of inflammation in the bone marrow consistent with infection.

The presence of the woven bone indicates the healing was incomplete and the whale died, the scientists estimate, between two and 6 weeks after the attack. The whale's death may have been unrelated to its infection and injury, Ortner says. "We don't know why it died."

Based on the curvature of the shark's jaw, as indicated by the arc of the impressions of its teeth, the scientists believe the shark was relatively small, between 4- and 8 meters long.

In the realm of paleontology, "only a handful of fossils show these kinds of interactions," Godfrey explains. "There are lots of bite marks on fossils showing where the animal died and its carcass was scavenged. This fossil is one of a very few examples that shows a trauma clearly attributed to another animal, yet also shows the victim survived the event."


Contact: Brian Ireley

Related biology news :

1. ORNL neutrons, simulations reveal details of bioenergy barrier
2. BGI releases a complete de novo E. coli O104 genome and details of their detection kit
3. What is a laboratory mouse? Jackson, UNC researchers reveal the details
4. Study details path to sustainable aviation biofuels industry in Northwest
5. Imaging technology reveals intricate details of 49-million-year-old spider
6. Polarized microscopy technique shows new details of how proteins are arranged
7. Scripps Research team discovers new details about medically important protein family
8. Book details viability of wood to energy market in southern wildland-urban interface areas
9. Research into chromosome replication reveals details of heredity dynamics
10. Fruit fly study digs deeper into poorly understood details of forming embryos
11. Scientists unravel more details of plant cell-wall construction
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Details of ancient shark attack preserved in fossil whale bone
(Date:11/19/2015)... , Nov. 19, 2015  Based on its in-depth ... Sullivan recognizes BIO-key with the 2015 Global Frost & ... Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company ... to the needs of the market it serves. The ... meets and expands on customer base demands, the overall ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... 2015 --> ... market report titled  Gesture Recognition Market - Global Industry ... 2021. According to the report, the global gesture recognition market was valued ... reach US$29.1 bn by 2021, at a CAGR of ... America dominated the global gesture recognition market ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. ... Directors. --> --> ... the partnership at TPG Capital, one of the largest ... Billion in revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating ... companies, from 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the Company") (TSX-V: ICO) ... quarter ended September 30, 2015. Amounts, unless specified ... under International Financial Reporting Standards ("IFRS"). ... Andrew Rae , President & CEO of iCo ... value enriching for this clinical program, but also ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... QUEBEC CITY , Nov. 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - ... the request of IIROC on behalf of the Toronto ... this news release there are no corporate developments that ... price. --> --> ... --> . --> Aeterna Zentaris ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP ... states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in ... for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... New York , November 24, 2015 ... to a recent market research report released by Transparency ... projected to expand at a CAGR of 17.5% during ... "Non-invasive Prenatal Testing Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, ... estimates the global non-invasive prenatal testing market to reach ...
Breaking Biology Technology: