The whale shark and the manta ray are perhaps two of the ocean’s most fascinating large fishes. Well, scientists have now announced the discovery of a prehistoric ancestor of both, that looked like a cross between the two.
Named Aquilolamna milarcae – or the eagle shark – the creature was a member of the elasmobranch group of fishes, which includes modern sharks and rays. Although the cartilaginous skeletons of elasmobranchs typically don’t fossilize, they will occasionally do so under the right conditions.
Such was the case with the 93 million year-old remains of an Aquilolamna, which were unearthed near the northern Mexican town of Vallecillo in 2012. A recent analysis by an international team of scientists determined that the skeleton was that of a previously unknown species.