"The impetus of this project was really the fact that Gordon Hubbell donated a majority of his fossil shark collection to the Florida Museum," Ehret said. "Naming the shark in his honor is a small tip of the hat to all the great things he has done to advance paleontology."
Ehret and co-authors published an initial study describing the shark specimens in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2009, but dates for the site reflected information from a 1985 study about the Pisco Formation, he said. With Hubbell's hand-drawn maps and descriptions of the landscape, researchers returned to the site and found the exact spot the fossils were discovered.
Scientists extracted more accurate age estimates from mollusk shells in the fossil horizon to determine the shark species was from the late Miocene, about 6.5 million years ago, rather than the early Pliocene, about 4.5 million years ago. The new dates will also be useful for better understanding other fossils found in the rich Pisco Formation, which include new whale, marine sloth and terrestrial vertebrate species.
"The thing that was remarkable to me was that these fossils came from right out in the desert and this was before GPS, so Dana had only an approximate notion of where it was," said Florida Museum of Natural History Director Douglas Jones, a study co-author who conducted strontium isotope dating of the fossils. "But after a few days of looking, we were able to find this deposit and Dana found the rest of the missing shark's teeth."
Researchers determined Hubbell's white shark was related to ancient broad-toothed mako sharks by comparing the physical shapes of shark teeth to one another. While modern white sharks have serrations on their teeth for consuming marine mammals, mako sharks do not have serrations because they primarily feed on fish. Hubbell's white shark has coarse serrations indicative of a transi
|Contact: Paul Ramey|
University of Florida