New Mexico’s ‘Godzilla Shark’ gets a new name

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Paleontologists said New Mexico was once home to one of the world’s top predators. A shark that ruled the ocean here 300-million years ago. Researchers said they finally came up with a scientific name for the so-called ‘Godzilla Shark.’

Going back in time almost 300-million years ago, paleontologists said New Mexico’s landscape was completely different than what we see today. “New Mexico was sitting almost smack dab on the equator so this was a very tropical place and the sea level was higher so most of the state was under sea level,” said New Mexico Museum of Natural History Paleontology Curator, Dr. Spencer Lucas.

Way back then, it was home to one of the most ferocious creatures of the sea that went by the nickname the ‘Godzilla Shark’. “It was the biggest shark of its time, it was a terribly ferocious predator,” said Dr. Lucas.

In 2013, a team of scientists learning about rocks in the Manzano mountains stumbled upon a rare ‘Godzilla-Shark’ fossil. Since then, they’ve learned a lot about it. “What we know is that this shark was almost seven feet long, it had a mouth full of very sharp teeth,” said Dr. Lucas. “And it had a couple of huge spines on its back. Seven feet doesn’t sound big in terms of modern sharks, that’s not that big but 300-million years ago it was the biggest or one of the biggest sharks in the world.”

Recently, researchers finally came up with a less scary, more scientific name for it: Dracopristis Hoffmanorum. It’s a mouthful of a name for a shark that had 12 rows of teeth. “It was probably the top predator, the apex predator in the seaways that covered New Mexico,” said Dr. Lucas.

The scientific name stems from its Godzilla-like traits with its giant jaws and large spines. As well as honoring the Hoffman family who owns the land where the fossil was found. Scientists believe the shark lived in shallow lagoons, preying on crustaceans and other sharks and its large dorsal fin spines acting as a deterrent against larger predators.

“And therefore you can think of it as Godzilla 300-million years ago terrorizing the seaways that covered much of New Mexico,” said Dr. Lucas. He also adds that he hopes to put the fossil on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History as early as this summer.

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