A new species of prehistoric freshwater shark has been found by a North Carolina State lecturer, and it had “spaceship-shaped teeth,” according to statement from the university.
However, the shark dubbed Galagadon nordquistae was more like a mutant catfish than the 60-plus-foot megalodon shark, growing only to about 18 inches with teeth less than a millimeter across, the release said.
Those teeth “resemble the alien ships from the popular 1980s video game Galaga,” said a statement from Terry Gates, the university lecturer credited with the find.
Gates says it lived during the Cretaceous, about 67 million years ago, in “what is now South Dakota.”
“Galagadon was not swooping in to prey on T. rex, Triceratops, or any other dinosaurs that happened into its streams,” Gates said in a statement. “This shark had teeth that were good for catching small fish or crushing snails and crawdads.”
Evidence of the shark was found in the same dirt where scientists discovered the world’s most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, nicknamed Sue, now on display at the Field Museum in Chicago, said the N.C. State release.
It’s believed the small shark thrived in the same river where Sue the T. rex drank, said the Journal of Paleontology.
Two dozen shark teeth were found as “Gates sifted through the almost two tons of dirt” with a volunteer assistant, the news release said. The sediment sat in storage for decades at the Field Museum until Gates took an interest, according to the Journal of Paleontology.
“It amazes me that we can find microscopic shark teeth sitting right beside the bones of the largest predators of all time,” Gates said in a statement. “These teeth are the size of a sand grain. Without a microscope you’d just throw them away.”
News of the discovery has been covered around the world since being announced Monday, including by Science Daily and the BBC, which sported the headline “Fossil shark named after 80s video game.”