30-million-year-old fossil shark species discovered in Summerville
Catsharks, like the one pictured above, are a relative of the ancient species discovered from fossils in Summerville (Getty Images){p}{/p}

A team of scientists from South Carolina and Alabama announced a new fossil shark species with ties to the Lowcountry was discovered.

The new species, named Scyliorhinus weemsi after paleontologist Dr. Robert Weems, lived nearly 30 million years ago during the Oligocene Epoch of the Paleogene Period. The fossil discovery was based on approximately a dozen microscopic teeth found in Summerville.

The shark was likely less than 2 ft. long with teeth small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.

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“This new species is an ancient relative of living catsharks,” said Jun Ebersole of the McWane Science Center in Birmingham. “There are approximately 15 living members of this genus in the world’s oceans today, but their ancestry extends back to the time of the dinosaurs.”

Photo of the teeth fossils discovered in Summerville (Provided by SC State Museum)

David Cicimurri of the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia said studies like this help determine how plants and animals in the past responded to climate change, allowing them to predict how nature will react to future climate change. 

Cicimurri and Ebersole made the discovery with James Knight of the SC State Museum.

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