Remains of ancient sharks discovered in Mammoth Cave

MAMMOTH CAVE Ky.-Around 330 million years ago before the Mammoth Cave was formed, ancient sharks roamed nearby oceans. Fast forward to 2020, and these remains have been discovered, and recently identified.

“People knew of teeth of this shark, but never knew what its jaw looked like. And to find out that we had such a diverse group of sharks, we have discovered at least 10 species, maybe more,” said Mammoth Cave specialist and research coordinator Rick Toomey.

The remains are in a portion of the cave that isn’t accessible to the public. That entire portion of the cave is filled with what was sea life, with the teeth being preserved in many different areas. It’s been catching the attention of experts like Chris Groves, a professor of hydrogeology at Western Kentucky University.

“It’s not surprising that you would find fossils of things that live in the ocean, but I’d never heard of any shark fossils being found in those rocks,” Groves said.

Experts say there’s another section of the cave which held sea life as well, meaning there is still potentially more to discover.

“The fact that they were recently discovered really does highlight the fact that in general, it’s a big world,” Groves said

In the end, experts say the layout of Mammoth Cave is a great way to keep track of what used to call Kentucky home.

“Because we have both those rocks and the cave passage, we get a glimpse that we don’t normally get to see. It gives us an incredibly exciting insight into what the ocean looked like 330 million years ago in what’s now Kentucky,” Toomey said.