Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Paleontologists have recovered dozens of teeth belonging to an extinct mega-shark species from a beach in Australia.
The discovery was first made by amateur fossil enthusiast Philip Mullaly.
"I was walking along the beach looking for fossils, turned and saw this shining glint in a boulder and saw a quarter of the tooth exposed," Mullaly said in a news release. "I was immediately excited, it was just perfect and I knew it was an important find that needed to be shared with people."
Most of the time, shark teeth are discovered one at a time. Because sharks regrow teeth, they lose a tooth nearly every day.
Mullaly alerted paleontologists at Museum Victoria to his find. During a series of expeditions, researchers collected more than 40 teeth, all belonging to the great jagged narrow-toothed shark, Carcharocles angustidens, an extinct species of mega-toothed shark that stalked the coasts of Australia some 25 million years ago.
"These teeth are of international significance, as they represent one of just three associated groupings of Carcharocles angustidens teeth in the world, and the very first set to ever be discovered in Australia," said Erich Fitzgerald, senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology.
With jagged teeth measuring nearly 3 inches in length, the species boasted a fearsome grin. The shark could grow to nearly 30 feet in length, twice the size of a great white shark, making it the seas' top predator during the late Oligocene epoch.
Among the mega-shark teeth, paleontologists found teeth belonging to several individual sixgill sharks. Researchers believe teeth of the small sharks became dislodged as they scavenged on the mega-shark carcass.
"The teeth of the sixgill shark work like a crosscut saw, and tore into the Carcharocles angustidens like loggers felling a tree. The stench of blood and decaying flesh would have drawn scavengers from far around," said Museums Victoria palaeontologist Tim Ziegler. "Sixgill sharks still live off the Victorian coast today, where they live off the remains of whales and other animals. This find suggests they have performed that lifestyle here for tens of millions of years."
Mullaly donated his discovery to Victoria Museum, which presented the rare fossil to the public Thursday.