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Fossil Species of Florida

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Chondrichthyes, Lamniformes, Lamnidae

CARCHARODON HASTALIS (AGASSIZ, 1843)

Common Name: none

Alternate Scientific Names: Oxyrhina hastalis, Isurus hastalis, Cosmopolitodus hastalis, Isurus xiphodon, Cosmopolitodus xiphodon, Carcharodon plicatilis

Source of Species Name: probably derived from the Latin word for spear, hasta, because of the pointed shape of the teeth, similar to a spear tip.

Age Range: early Miocene through early late Pliocene, about 20 to 3 million years ago.


Florida Fossil Occurrences:

Florida map with occurrences indicated

Figure 1. Map of Florida, with black circles indicating counties where fossils of Carcharodon hastalis have been found (the circles do not indicate a specific location within the county where the fossils were found, and some counties may have two or more different locations producing this species).


Florida Fossil Sites with Carcharodon hastalis:
Alachua County—Gainesville Creeks Fauna (including Cofrin Creek, Gainesville High School Creek, Hogtown Creek, Hume Hall Creek, and Rattlesnake Creek); Love Site; McGehee Farm Site
Charlotte County—Casa de Meadows 2; Port Charlotte
Columbia County—Santa Fe River 1; Price Creek Site
De Soto County—Peace River 1
Duval County—Dredging spoilpiles on Blount and Buck Islands, St. Johns River
Gadsden County—La Camelia Mine
Glades County—Ortona Locks
Hamilton County—Occdental Phosphate Mine; Suwannee River Mine; Swift Creek Mine
Hardee County—Hardee Complex Mine (C. F. Industries); Fort Green Mine; Hickey Branch Site
Hendry County—Caloosahatchee River near La Belle; Cochran Shell Pit
Hernando County—phosphate mine near Brooksville
Hillsborough County—Apollo Beach; Leisey Shell Pit 1C; Four Corners Mine; Leisey Shell Pit 3A (reworked)
Lee County—Hickey Creek
Levy County—Waccasassa River
Manatee County—Braden River Site; Four Corners Mine West; Manatee County Dam Site
Marion County—Emathla Site; Lowell 1B
Nassau County—St. Mary’s River Bridge Site
Pinellas County—Oldsmar 1; Oldsmar 2
Polk County—Achan Mine; Fort Green Mine; Fort Meade Mine (Gardinier); Hookers Prairie Mine; Kingsford Mine; North Palmetto Mine; Palmetto Mine; Palmetto Mine Micro Site; Payne Creek Mine; TRO Quarry in the Payne Creek Mine; Red Zone, Grey Zone, and Upper Zone of Phosphoria Mine; South Fort Meade Mine (Mosaic); T/A Minerals Corp. Mine; Tencor Mine; Tiger Bay Mine
Putnam County—East Coast Aggregates Quarry 1
Sarasota County—Deans Trucking Pit; Lockwood Meadows; Beds 4 and 10-11, Macasphalt Shell Pit; Quality Aggregates 7 and 7A; Quality Aggregates 8A; Venice Beach and off-shore region; Warm Mineral Springs
St. Johns County—East Coast Aggregates Quarry 2

Overall Geographic Range: The species is known world-wide from marine deposits of Miocene and Pliocene age. Fossils have been found in Europe (including records in Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Portugal, and Italy); Azores; United States (New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and California); Mexico (Baja California Sur, Yucatan); South America (Argentina, Peru, Chile); Australia; Fiji; and Asia (Japan, India, and Taiwan). The type locality is in Switzerland (Purdy et al., 2001).

Comments: Teeth of the extinct shark Carcharodon hastalis have been found in most Miocene and Pliocene marine deposits in Florida that produce shark teeth. It is typically found along with teeth of Carcharocles megalodon, Hemipristis serra, Carcharias taurus, Negaprion brevirostris, several species of Carcharhinus, and several species of Galeocerdo. In this assemblage, teeth of Carcharodon hastalis are the second largest, typically ranging from 1 to 3 inches (2.5-7.5 cm) in height, being exceeded in size only by those of Carcharocles megalodon.

The upper teeth of Carcharodon hastalis are broadly triangular with smooth, unserrated cutting edges (Figs. 2-4), while the lower teeth are narrower and have deeper root notches (Kent, 1994). Teeth from juveniles can have a single, very small cusplet on each shoulder. The teeth of juvenile Carcharocles megalodon and adult Carcharodon hastalis overlap in size, but the two can be easily distinguished by the lack of serrations on the cutting edges of the teeth in Carcharodon hastalis (present on teeth of Carcharocles megalodon and Hemipristis serra). Another difference is that teeth of Carcharocles megalodon have a region above the root with exposed dentine called a bourlette while teeth of Carcharodon hastalis lack such a feature, as is true of most other sharks. Fossil teeth of Isurus oxyrinchus, the shortfin mako shark, are common in Florida only on the northeast Atlantic coast (Duval and Nassau counties). Like Carcharodon hastalis teeth, they do not have serrated cutting edges, but differ in their much narrower, more curved crowns and longer root lobes (Kent, 1994).

upper tooth of Carcharodon hastalis

Figure 2. UF 3772 in lateral or labial (left) and inner or lingual (right) views. Left upper tooth of Carcharodon hastalis from Hume Hall Creek, University of Florida campus, Gainesville, Florida (early or middle Miocene).

Another large shark with smooth-edged tooth crowns that coexisted with Carcharodon hastalis was Parotodus benedeni. The latter has relative short, thick crowns with relatively large root. Parotodus benedeni is very uncommon in Florida, with the only two known teeth coming from Duval County (Jacksonville area). The most common shark found as a fossil in Florida with a smooth-edged (non-serrated) tooth crown is the lemon shark, genus Negaprion. Negaprion teeth are smaller than those of adult Carcharodon hastalis, reaching a maximum height of 1.5 inches, with most specimens ranging from 0.5 to 1 inch. Negaprion teeth also have relatively narrower crowns, with the root being much wider than the base of the crown, and the base of the root is nearly straight or with a slight angle (Kent, 1994).

upper tooth of Carcharodon hastalis

Figure 3. UF 220078 in lateral or labial (left) and inner or lingual (right) views. Left upper anterior tooth of Carcharodon hastalis from the Fort Green Mine, Hardee County, Florida (early Pliocene). This is an example of the broad-form variety of Carcharodon hastalis, which some paleontologist refer to a separate species, such as Cosmopolitodus xiphodon.



lateral upper tooth of Carcharodon hastalis

Figure 4. UF 217145 in lateral or labial (left) and inner or lingual (right) views. Right upper lateral tooth of Carcharodon hastalis from the Kingsford Mine, Polk County, Florida (early Pliocene).

Several aspects of the classification and taxonomy of this species are currently under debate by researchers. Therefore, one will see many different names for it in scientific publications and on web sites. One area of contention is into which genus to place the species. Traditionally, among members of the family Lamnidae, it was considered more closely related to the living mako sharks (Isurus paucus and Isurus oxyrinchus) than to the great white (Carcharodon carcharias) or porbeagle (Lamna nasus) sharks (Fig. 5A). This arrangement was also part of the hypothesis that Carcharodon carcharias was more closely related to megalodon and other gigantic extinct species with serrated teeth than it was to “Isurushastalis or any of the living species of Isurus (e.g., Applegate and Espinosa-Arrubarrena, 1996; Purdy et al., 2001; and Gottfried and Fordyce, 2001). Over the past decade, an alternate arrangement has gained favor with most researchers, that Carcharodon carcharias is not closely related to megalodon, but is instead more closely related to, and most likely the descendant of, “Isurushastalis (Fig. 5B; Muizon and DeVries, 1985; Nyberg et al., 2009; Ehret et al., 2012). This evolutionary transition is thought to have occurred in the eastern Pacific during the late Miocene, based on the presence there of a morphologically intermediate species, Carcharodon hubbelli Ehret et al., 2012. Workers favoring this hypothesis are divided among those who place “Isurushastalis in an extinct genus Cosmopolitodus (e.g., Ávila et al., 2012; Cook et al., 2010) and those who place it in Carcharodon along with the modern great white (e.g., Ehret et al., 2012). The classification used here follows Ehret et a. (2012).


lamnid phylogeny

Figure 5. Two hypotheses concerning the evolutionary relationships of selected species of lamnid sharks. A, traditional hypothesis in which the great white, Carcharodon carcharias is more closely related to the extinct megalodon than it is to the mako sharks, genus Isurus. B, alternate hypothesis, in which the great white, Carcharodon carcharias is more closely related to the extinct species "Isurus" hastalis. As Carcharodon carcharias is the type species of the genus Carcharodon, "Isurus" hastalis must be assigned to either Carcharodon or to its own genus Cosmopolitodus. The generic name Carcharocles is the oldest one available for the extinct megatoothed sharks such as megalodon. Hypothesis A is favored by Applegate and Espinosa-Arrubarrena (1996), Purdy et al. (2001), and Gottfried and Fordyce (2001); hypothesis B is favored by Nyberg et al. (2006), Cione et al. (2012), and Ehret et al. (2012).


A second on-going debate is about whether or not the fossil teeth traditionally assigned to Carcharodon hastalis belong to one or two species (regardless of which genus is applied to the species). Retaining just a single species for these fossil teeth was favored by Cappetta (2006), and this interpretation is followed here. The recognition of two species was formally proposed by Purdey et al. (2001), and has been followed by some researchers, such as Aguilera and Rodrigues de Aguilera (2004), Marsili (2008), Whitenack and Gottfried (2010), and Cione et al. (2012). Under this hypothesis, even after accounting for differences in tooth width between upper and lower teeth, there is one species with relatively narrower teeth and another with relatively broader teeth. The former is more common in early to early late Miocene deposits and the latter in latest Miocene and Pliocene beds. According to Purdy et al. (2001), the narrower-toothed form retains the hastalis species name, and is thus the “true” Isurus hastalis or Cosmopolitodus hastalis, depending on one’s interpretation of lamnid evolution. The broader-tooth species was listed as Isurus xiphodon by Purdy et al. (2001) and as Carcharodon plicatilis by Cione et al. (2012), both species originally named by Agassiz in the mid-1800s.


Scientific Publications and Other References Cited:

Aguilera, O., and D. Rodrigues de Aguilera. 2004. Giant-toothed white sharks and wide-toothed mako (Lamnidae) from the Venezuela Neogene: their role in the Caribbean, shallow-water fish assemblage. Caribbean Journal of Science 40(3):368-382. http://caribjsci.org/dec04/40_368-382.pdf

Applegate, S. and Espinosa-Arrubarrena, L. 1996. The fossil history of Carcharodon and its possible ancestor, Cretolamna: A study in tooth identification. Pp. 19-36 in A. P. Klimley, D. G. Ainley (eds.), Great White Sharks: The Biology of Carcharodon carcharias . Academic Press, San Diego.

Ávila, S.P., R. Ramalho, and R. Vullo. 2012. Systematics, palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography of the Neogene fossil sharks from the Azores (Northeast Atlantic). Annales de Paléontologie 98(3): 167–189. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/231183251_Systematics_palaeoecology_and_palaeobiogeography_of_the_Neogene_fossil_sharks_from_the_Azores_(Northeast_Atlantic)/file/d912f50658a6ec4661.pdf

Cappetta, H. 2006. Elasmobranchii post-triadici (index specierum et generum). In: Riegraf, W. (Ed.), Fossilium Catalogus I: Animalia 142. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, 472 pp.

Cione, A.L., D.A. Cabrera, and M.J. Barla. 2012. Oldest record of the Great White Shark (Lamnidae, Carcharodon; Miocene) in the Southern Atlantic. Geobios 45(2): 167–172. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016699512000149

Cook, T. D., A. M. Murray , E. L. Simons , Y. S. Attia, and P. Chatrath. 2010. A Miocene selachian fauna from Moghra, Egypt. Historical Biology 22:78-87. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08912960903249329#.UidZlX_pzYY

Ehret, D. J., B. J. MacFadden, D. S. Jones, T. J. Devries, D. A. Foster, and R. Salas-Gismondi. 2012. Origin of the white shark Carcharodon (Lamniformes: Lamnidae) based on recalibration of the upper Neogene Pisco Formation of Peru. Palaeontology 55(6):1139–1153. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1475-4983.2012.01201.x/full

Gottfried, M. D., and R. E. Fordyce. 2001. An associated specimen of Carcharodon angustidens (Chondrichthyes, Lamnidae) from the late Oligocene of New Zealand, with comments on Carcharodon interrelationships. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21(4):730-739. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20062013

Hulbert Jr., R. C. 2001. The Fossil Vertebrates of Florida. University Press of Florida, Gainesville, 384 pp.

Kent, B. W. 1994. Fossil Sharks of the Chesapeake Bay Region. Egan Rees & Boyer, Columbia, Maryland, 146 p.

Marsili, S., 2008. Systematic, paleoecologic and paleobiogeographic analysis of the Plio–Pleistocene Mediterranean elasmobranch fauna. Atti Della Società Toscana Di Scienze Naturali Memorie Serie A 113:81-88. ttp://www.stsn.it/serA113/09_marsili.pdf

Muizon, C., and T. J. DeVries. 1985. Geology and paleontology of late Cenozoic marine deposits in the Sacaco area (Peru). Geologische Rundschau 74:547-563. http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF01821211.pdf

Nyberg, K.G., C.N. Ciampaglio, and G.A. Wray. 2006. Tracing the ancestry of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias using morphometric analyses of fossil teeth. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(4): 806–814. http://www.jstor.org/stable/4524633

Purdy, R., V. P. Schnieder, S. P. Applegate, J. H. McLellan, R. L. Meyer, and B. H. Slaughter. 2001. The Neogene sharks, rays, and bony fishes from Lee Creek Mine, Aurora, North Carolina. Geology and paleontology of the Lee Creek Mine, North Carolina, III. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology 90:71–202.

Whitenack, L.B., and M.D. Gottfried. 2010. A morphometric approach for addressing tooth-based species delimitation in fossil mako sharks, Isurus (Elasmobranchii: Lamniformes). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(1): 17–25. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724630903409055#.UidyiX_pzYY


Original Author(s): Alexis Rojas

Original Completion Date: December 1, 2012

Editor(s) Name(s): Richard C. Hulbert Jr.

Last Up-dated On: September 4, 2013

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number CSBR 1203222, Jonathan Bloch, Principal Investigator. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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