Imagine strolling down the beach and discovering a razor-sharp tooth from a shark twice the size of a Great White.
He told Museums Victoria, and Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology, confirmed the seven centimetre-long teeth were from an extinct species of predator known as the great jagged narrow-toothed shark (Carcharocles angustidens).
The shark, which stalked Australia's oceans around 25 million years ago, feasting on small whales and penguins, could grow more than nine metres long, nearly twice the length of today's great white shark. Mullaly donated the find to the Melbourne Museum for future scientific research and education, per a press release. The find, announced Thursday, marks only the third set of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world and the first ever in Australia.
It's rare to find more than one matching shark tooth at a time because sharks naturally lose their teeth one at a time throughout their lives, so finding such a large number in the same place was unexpected. Because most of a shark's body is made up of cartilage, not bone, these teeth are a huge stepping stone into learning more about the prehistoric past of Australia's oceans.
Fitzgerald led a team of palaeontologists, volunteers and Mullaly on two expeditions earlier this year to excavate the site, collecting more than 40 teeth in total. After prying the almost 3-inch tooth loose from a boulder, he came back and found more teeth.