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Researcher: New shark species tooth found near Flagstaff

PHOENIX — Just when you thought it was safe to go back to northern Arizona comes word that sharks used to roam around Flagstaff.

It was a long, long time ago.

“[About] 260 million years ago, there was a warm shallow seaway that covered most of the American southwest all the way up to areas of Wyoming and Idaho,” said Northern Arizona University student John-Paul Hodnett.

That seaway had lots of sharks. Hodnett said over 40 fossilized sharks teeth have been found in the limestone around the Flagstaff area since 2006. One of the teeth was on the NAU campus. According to Hodnett, all of the fossils are now in the Museum of Northern Arizona.

The latest tooth was found recently near Munds Park. Hodnett said it belonged to a prehistoric shark called Diablodontus michaeledmundi, also known as the devil’s tooth shark.

He said the shark is appropriately named.

“They had a devilish look in the first place, but they also belong to an extinct group of sharks that had funny little horned-like spikes on the top of the head and spines on its fins,” Hodnett said. “They were, in essence, a devil-looking shark.”

The tooth found near Munds Park is about the size of a dime. Hodnett estimated that it came from a shark that was about three-and-a-half feet long.

Hodnett added that many of the finds were on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, and older shark’s teeth have been found as far south as Payson. He said it’s possible that there may be shark’s teeth buried in the Phoenix area.

Hodnett said he and co-author David Elliott wrote a report about the sharks that was recently published in Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural Science. For more information, click here.