Here’s hoping that these critters aren’t still swimming in Elephant Butte…

My wife used to remark that our children’s dental bills probably paid for one of the propellers on our orthodontist’s fancy twin-engine airplane.

A recent confirmation of discovery of the fossil of a “Godzilla Shark” that swam in a shallow sea covering what is now New Mexico 300 million years ago puts those dental bills in more perspective.


Illustration of Dracopristis hoffman, swimming in a shallow sea that was located in New Mexico

A fossil of this giant shark predecessor was discovered in the Manzano Mountains of central New Mexico in 2013. It took several years of research to confirm that it was a new species. Weighing in at about 200 pounds, the apex predator also had jagged spines on its back and — get this — 12 rows of teeth. My kids’ single row of teeth was expensive enough.

What was interesting to me is that the shallow sea where the Godzilla shark was swimming was then located at the equator, apparently long before even dinosaurs showed up. Tectonic plate movement and continental drift has since moved the bed of that sea thousands of miles north to form the bedrock of many parts of New Mexico. 

So if you’re thinking of dipping your toe into Elephant Butte or maybe even the Rio Grande, just hope that the genetic wizards from Jurassic Park haven’t slipped one of these into the water. 

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