Velizar Simeonovski, Field Museum
We have a new contestant in the competition for most awesome dinosaur name ever: Galagadon nordquistae. Paleontologists named the shark for its teeth, which resemble spaceships from the ’80s arcade game Galaga.
Terry Gates, NC State University
The itty-bitty river-dwelling shark lived during the late Cretaceous period. Researchers discovered its remains in South Dakota alongside the famous T. rex fossil Sue.
A paper published Monday in the Journal of Paleontology delves into Galagadon and its dainty dental protrusions. The shark likely maxed out at 12 to 18 inches (30 to 46 centimeters) in length and is a relative of carpet sharks alive today.
“This shark had teeth that were good for catching small fish or crushing snails and crawdads,” says the paper’s lead author Terry Gates, a lecturer at North Carolina State University.
The second part of Galagadon’s name, “nordquistae,” honors volunteer Karen Nordquist, who helped Gates sift through two tons of sediment left behind at the site of Sue’s discovery. They found two dozen teeth connected to the new shark species.
Gates describes the teeth as being the size of a sand grain. “It amazes me that we can find microscopic shark teeth sitting right beside the bones of the largest predators of all time,” he says.
While Galagadon arguably beats the gigantic Megalodon for coolest dino-shark name, it likely won’t end up starring alongside.