Sharks in Kentucky? That’s a long way from the ocean. I wonder how they got there?

By on Jan 31, 2020

Fossilized head of 340 million-year-old shark found in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave

Scientists excavating a cave in Kentucky were stunned to find the fossilized head of a huge shark — one thought to be up to 340 million years old, according to a report.

Rick Olson and Rick Toomey first came across the remains while mapping the world’s longest cave system, the 400-mile Mammoth Cave National Park, the Louisville Courier Journal said.

Their findings reached paleontologist John-Paul Hodnett, who joined them after finding a lower jaw, skull cartilage and several teeth from a shark the size of a Great White, possibly up to 21-feet long.

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to see in the cave,” Hodnett told the Courier Journal.

“When we got to our target specimen my mind was blown.”

Researchers discovered fossilized remains of a 330-million-year-old shark in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
The fossilized remains of a 330-million-year-old Saivodus striatus found in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.Matt Cecil

The shark belonged to a species called Saivodus striatus from the Late Mississippian period, about 330 to 340 million years ago, Hodnett said.

The team was particularly stunned because the area it was found — a layer of rock that extends from Missouri to Virginia — has “never documented the presence of sharks, until now,” he said.

“It’s like finding a missing puzzle piece to a very big picture,” the paleontologist said.

Hodnett said teeth and dorsal fins of other shark species also appeared evident in the cave walls.

“We’ve just scratched the surface,” Hodnett said. “But already it’s showing that Mammoth Cave has a rich fossil shark record.”