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SHARK, FISH AND WHALE FOSSILS

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Home > FOSSILS > SHARK, FISH AND WHALE FOSSILS

SHARKS, FISH AND WHALES

Fish first flourished in the Devonian period, about 400 million years ago, but apart from a few special sites around the world complete fossil fish are fairly rare as their carcasses were usually devoured by predators and the bones and scales scattered by undersea currents.  

Sharks belong to a group of fish known as cartilaginous fish - so called because their bones are made of cartilage, a flexible tissue.  For this reason the only parts of a shark that are usually found as fossils are teeth.  Sharks' teeth are suprisingly common fossils at some sites due to a shark's unique ability to discard and replace rows of teeth throughout its life.  

Whales are marine mammals, descended from a group of land-dwelling mammals that took to the sea about 40 million years ago. Fossilised whale bones are therefore only found in younger rocks, such as the Red Crag of East Anglia.