Sharks in Kentucky? Scientists make Mammoth Cave discovery

Shark fossils believed to be 330 million years old were recently discovered in Mammoth Cave. Paleontologists at the national park uncovered part of a shark head and dorsal fins while mapping the cave system’s fossils.

While shark teeth are a common find, fossils of shark skeletons are uncommon, especially in Kentucky and of this size. The research team believes they have just scratched the surface of what prehistoric treasures may be uncovered in Mammoth Cave, which is the longest known cave system on Earth spanning more than 400 miles.

The likely species of shark, called “Saviodus striatus,” is from the Late Mississippian period and could have been up to 30 feet long. Although Kentucky is landlocked today, giant sharks swam underwater millions of years ago in this region.

This discovery, which is part of the Mammoth Cave National Park Fossil Shark Research Project, gives new insight into the creatures that once stalked those waters. The project has identified around 100 individual specimens in the cave system.

— Rachel Nix

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