On Wednesday, the park announced the petal-toothed shark was found inside the Ste. Genevieve Formation rock layer at the park. The new species, the petalodont or strigilodus tollesonae, is described as having several small spoon-like teeth.
“We are excited to finally announce the discovery of our first new shark species at Mammoth Cave on NFD (National Fossil Day),” said Superintendent Barclay Trimble. “Teams of geologists, paleontologist, park staff, and volunteers have been hard at work deep inside the cave identifying and collecting fossils since the paleontological resources inventory began in 2019. Their important research allows us to better understand the scope, significance, distribution, and management issues associated with the fossil record found within Mammoth Cave.”
Mammoth Cave National Park said that strigilodus tollesonae translates to Tolleson’s scraper tooth and was named after Mammoth Cave National Park Guide Kelli Tolleson, who discovered many important fossil locations through her work and led expeditions to fossil sites.
The park said the strigilodus tollesonae is more closely related to modern-day ratfish, a chimaera found in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, than it is to the shark species we think of today.
Over 40 other fossils of sharks and their distant relatives have been found in Mammoth Cave over the years, according to the park.