South Carolina

SC researchers discover prehistoric shark species over 100 miles from sea, in Aiken

OCEARCH helps researchers get hard data on sharks

OCEARCH is a research vessel and at-sea laboratory that generates critical data to expand behavioral and ecological research on the large predators in the North Atlantic Ocean.
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OCEARCH is a research vessel and at-sea laboratory that generates critical data to expand behavioral and ecological research on the large predators in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Two South Carolina researchers have discovered a species of prehistoric shark, along with dozens of other fossils from prehistoric sea creatures.

David Cicimurri, curator of the South Carolina State Museum’s natural history collection, worked with James Knight, of the University of South Carolina Aiken Department of Biology and Geology. The two scoured a part of Aiken County that used to be underwater. They found and collected a treasure trove of fossil teeth and bones from sharks and rays.

Among the findings was a new species of daggernose shark, which Cicimurri and Knight named Isogomphodon aikenensis, in honor of the place where it was discovered.

The two published their findings in a June edition of the University of California Museum of Paleontology’s publication, PaleoBios.

Cicimurri and Knight’s discovery stands alone in the world of paleontology, but they said there could be more aikenensis sharks out there.

“It’s possible that people will come across them if they look in other areas of South Carolina or other places in the Southeast,” Cicimurri said, according to the Aiken Standard. “From what I’ve seen of sharks and rays in that time period, they were pretty widely distributed, at least in the Southeast. So a lot of things we find here you can also find down in Georgia or over in Alabama and Mississippi. I wouldn’t be surprised if they popped up somewhere else.”

Isabella Cueto is a bilingual multimedia journalist covering Lexington County, one of the fastest-growing areas of South Carolina. She previously worked as a reporter for the Medill Justice Project and WLRN, South Florida’s NPR station. She is a graduate of the University of Miami, where she studied journalism and theatre arts.
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