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'Siberia is indeed a land of superlatives: bigger than Europe and the US combined, with the biggest gas reserves in the world'

Still sharp after 34 million years: prehistoric shark teeth found in Siberian river

By Olga Gertcyk
25 January 2017

But how did they get to landlocked Kurgan region, 2,400 kilometres from the nearest ocean?

The shark teeth are estimated to be around 32-34 million years old. Picture: Triton diving centre

The fossilised teeth are the most extraordinary find in a graveyard of extinct animals lying on the bed of the Tobol River, on the edge of western Siberia. 

They were discovered along with woolly mammoth relics during a dive which was part of an expedition this month led by Sergey Kondrashin, member of the Russian Geographical Society.

Experts are examining 50 shark teeth to ascertain if they are from a known type of the predator. Our picture shows the fangs after the dive, laid out in the snow. 

Shark teeth

Experts are examining 50 shark teeth to ascertain if they are from a known type of the predator. Picture: Triton diving centre

But what were the shark remnants doing in a freshwater river so far from the ocean? The answer is that this region was once the prehistoric Turgay Sea.

'Some 29 to 160 million years ago, in the Cenozoic and the Mesozoic eras, the Trans Urals were covered by the ancient Turgay Sea,' said explorer Kondrashin. 

He estimates the shark teeth to be around 32-34 million years old. 

Diving


Diving


Diving

This depository of ancient bones includes animal remains over an large time span, from tens of millions of years to a few thousand, all in the same stretch of water. Pictures: Triton diving centre

'We are hoping that the scientists will be able to find a species that have not  been studied earlier from the teeth of the sharks,' he said. 'We will obtain the results in two weeks.' 

The teeth were found at a depth of around 3 metres during the dive by members of the Triton diving centre in the fast-flowing Tobol, which took place in an air temperature of minus 24C.

Intriguingly, this depository of ancient bones includes animal remains over an large time span, from tens of millions of years to a few thousand, all in the same stretch of water. 

Turgai sea

Some 29 to 160 million years ago, in the Cenozoic and the Mesozoic eras, the Trans Urals were covered by the ancient Turgay Sea. Picture: Smith609

On the same dive, as shown in the video, a thigh, tusk and spoke bone of a woolly mammoth was fished out of the water. Found too was part of a skull of an ancient horse, and bones of a bison. 

'All the finds have been passed to the Ural Mineralogy Museum,' he said. 'Earlier we managed to find a skull of a a wide-horned bison there, the lower jaw of a mammoth, and the remains of a cave lion and ancient horse.'

He said: 'This is a unique place, one of a kind in Europe.' It has 'an abnormally large aggregation of remains of dead animals'.

Manmade objects have been pulled from the water, too. 

Bones


Bones


Bones


Bones

This unique place has 'an abnormally large aggregation of remains of dead animals'. Pictures: Triton diving centre

'In January 2015 a fragment of a ceramic jar from the Neolithic Period was discovered on the river's bottom for the first time,' he said. 'It helped to locate a new, previously unknown Neolithic camp of ancient man.'

Nor are the shark teeth the only sign of sea life here. 

'The river has eroded away the soft sediments and opened parts of the floor of the ancient sea' he said. The remains of cramp fish have been found here, for example. 

Divers also discovered the vertebra of fish and shells. He said they are 'in perfect condition every time'.

Comments (1)

impressive discoveries!
timetraveler_5000, Greece
05/03/2017 19:06
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