For at least 180 years, the scientific community has described to us what Asteracanthus ornatissimus , a hybodontiform shark that lived on our planet during the Jurassic , about 150 million years ago, looked like. This happened when researchers had no entire bones of this ancient animal available to them.
But now, as a study recently published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology tells us, paleontologists have finally got their hands on complete remains of Asteracanthus ornatissimus . It was a team of Austrian and Swiss paleontologists who made this important discovery.
Analyzes carried out on these fossil remains of Asteracanthus ornatissimus recently found in Germany show that in addition to having been truly terrifying, this monster was at the top of the food chain in the Jurassic ecosystem in which it lived.
The Asteracanthus ornatissimus was really impressive
Dr Sebastian Stumpf of the University of Vienna (Austria), and his colleagues insisted that the group of hybodontiformes, which includes Asteracanthus ornatissimus, is closely related to modern sharks and rays. Appearing around 361 million years ago, hybodontiformes survived 2 out of 5 historical extinction events, only to finally disappear at the end of the Cretaceous .
The dimensions of hybodontiformes could range from only a few centimeters to 3 meters in length. And following analyzes carried out on Asteracanthus ornatissimus , researchers were able to suggest that it was one of the most impressive of its group.
During the Jurassic, modern sharks and stingrays often did not reach 2 meters. This made A. ornatissimus even more extraordinary. Another characteristic, this monster had a pair of dorsal fins, made up of large and distinct spines.
Examinations of the teeth of this animal are revealing
When the researchers examined the teeth is the Asteracanthus ornatissimus, which number 150, the results are amazing.
Analyzes have indeed shown that each tooth is made up of an impressive cusp , a protuberance that allows the tooth to fit into the one it has opposite on the other jaw. Each tooth is also surrounded by many other cusps, smaller, arranged on each side.
According to Dr. Stumpf, the characteristics of the dentition of A. ornatissimus demonstrate that this sea giant happened to be a formidable predator, which was able to prey on various types of animals and reigned supreme in the oceans of the Jurassic.