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matt2946

Why Aren't there any Shark Teeth in VT.

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matt2946

Could someone explain why there would be remains of shark food (whales, seals, large fish) but no evidence of sharks? I am sure there is a scientific reason why but for the life of me I can't figure out why a beluga whale could swim into the Champlain Sea 13,000 years ago and a shark didn't follow it in.

 

Thanks in advance for the information! 

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Fossildude19

Welcome to the Forum. :)

I split your question out into it's own topic.

 

The only references I see to mammal fossils in Vermont is the one whale, and some mammoth fossils. 

This website states: 

"The whale died approximately 11,000 years ago of unknown causes. Whether it died in shallow water and settled to the bottom, or died in deeper water and was washed inland, its body eventually came to rest at the bottom of a quiet bay or estuary in the Champlain Sea. Undisturbed by predators or scavengers large enough to scatter the bones, the whale decomposed and was slowly buried by clay and silt sediments."

 

It could be any number of reasons, but the most logical to me is that it was an area the didn't host many sharks.

Perhaps it was too shallow for them, or too cold.  There probably isn't any one single reason why there aren't shark tooth fossils in VT, but given the odds of fossilization happening at all, 

I would think that the fact they just weren't around the Champlain sea at the time is most likely. ;) 

 

I hope some others weigh in on this.  

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matt2946
5 minutes ago, Fossildude19 said:

Welcome to the Forum. :)

I split your question out into it's own topic.

 

The only references I see to mammal fossils in Vermont is the one whale, and some mammoth fossils. 

This website states: 

"The whale died approximately 11,000 years ago of unknown causes. Whether it died in shallow water and settled to the bottom, or died in deeper water and was washed inland, its body eventually came to rest at the bottom of a quiet bay or estuary in the Champlain Sea. Undisturbed by predators or scavengers large enough to scatter the bones, the whale decomposed and was slowly buried by clay and silt sediments."

 

It could be any number of reasons, but the most logical to me is that it was an area the didn't host many sharks.

Perhaps it was too shallow for them, or too cold.  There probably isn't any one single reason why there aren't shark tooth fossils in VT, but given the odds of fossilization happening at all, 

I would think that the fact they just weren't around the Champlain sea at the time is most likely. ;) 

 

I hope some others weigh in on this.  

Thank you for your response! 

https://www.calvertmarinemuseum.com/DocumentCenter/View/2200/Ecphora-June-2016?bidId=


According to this article, over 20 beluga skeletons have been found around Lake Champlain. They also claim that "numerous other large vertebrates co-existed with the beluga whales. These included fin, humpback, and bowhead whales, harbor porpoises, ringed, harp, and bearded seals, as well as many species of fish [2, 3]. The ringed seal, Pusa hispida, was recently found in these sediments near Plattsburgh, NY [3]."

 

It seems to me as though there was a very diverse marine ecosystem for a limited time that supported very large creatures. This is why I question why other large creatures such as sharks didn't find there way into the Champlain Sea. Although some sharks are deterred by cold temperatures, I am also aware of many species that can endure very low temperatures near the arctic. What are your thoughts on this? 

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Fossildude19
9 minutes ago, matt2946 said:

Thank you for your response! 

According to this article, over 20 beluga skeletons have been found around Lake Champlain. They also claim that "numerous other large vertebrates co-existed with the beluga whales. These included fin, humpback, and bowhead whales, harbor porpoises, ringed, harp, and bearded seals, as well as many species of fish [2, 3]. The ringed seal, Pusa hispida, was recently found in these sediments near Plattsburgh, NY [3]."

It seems to me as though there was a very diverse marine ecosystem for a limited time that supported very large creatures. This is why I question why other large creatures such as sharks didn't find there way into the Champlain Sea. Although some sharks are deterred by cold temperatures, I am also aware of many species that can endure very low temperatures near the arctic. What are your thoughts on this? 

 

In this article, it makes reference to the fish and other fossils being found in the "Champlain Sea," but that area extends up into New York and Canada, where the majority of those fossils were found. 

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matt2946

@Fossildude19 I agree that most of the large remains have been found on the Canadian side, although I know for a fact that there have been seal and whale remnants found on the New York side of the lake as well. However, I don't read of any shark remains being found anywhere in the Champlain Sea, not even on the Canadian side, I am curious as to why. 

 

I am no expert, just a curious person who wants to learn more about my local environmental history :)

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Fossildude19
5 minutes ago, matt2946 said:

@Fossildude19 I agree that most of the large remains have been found on the Canadian side, although I know for a fact that there have been seal and whale remnants found on the New York side of the lake as well. However, I don't read of any shark remains being found anywhere in the Champlain Sea, not even on the Canadian side, I am curious as to why. 

 

I am no expert, just a curious person who wants to learn more about my local environmental history :)

I too, am not an expert, but again, for things to fossilize, they had to die there, (or in the case of sharks, shed teeth there). 

If they were not present there, then there will be no fossils of them.  :shrug:

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matt2946

You are right, logically it seems as though sharks did not enter the ancient Champlain Sea, I wonder why? Maybe the Sea was much less salty than the ocean? Maybe the lake monster Champ ate all the sharks!

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Fossildude19

:heartylaugh:

 

@FossilDAWG  might have some ideas? 

 

 

AFcq.gif

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matt2946

@Auspex Thank you for your response! That is a great point I had not thought about in regard to the Champlain Sea being turbid from the glacial minerals. I guess that explains why sharks didn't stick around but why did the whales? Did the increased amount of minerals in the water feed a krill or fish supply that attracted the whales?

 

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Auspex

I think the better answer as to why elsewhere but not Vermont is that the Vermont portion was but a shallow, narrow, short-lived arm of the Champlain Sea.

Krill would not have been an issue for the Belugas, which are toothed whales. They were present in the broader, deeper regions, eating fish.

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Oxytropidoceras

In addition to the marine mammals, the below paper summarizes both fishes and invertebrates reported from the sediments of the Champlain Sea. However, it lacks any mention of sharks.

 

Harington, C.R., 1977. Marine mammals in the Champlain Sea and the Great Lakes. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 288(1), pp.508-537.

https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1977.tb33640.x

 

Yours,

 

PaulH. 

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matt2946

@Auspex It is logical to think that the narrow finger of what is modern day Lake Champlain may have been too shallow for sharks (although I have my doubts about this), but that does not explain why there is no evidence of sharks anywhere else in the ancient Champlain Sea, even in the larger Canadian area. 

 

@Oxytropidoceras Thanks for the feedback! Do you have any theories as to why there is no evidence of shark activity in the Champlain Sea? 

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DPS Ammonite

Most of the sediments that could have contained the teeth were probably washed away into the Lake as the land rose isostatically. The teeth, if present, are likely under the lake and out of sight.

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matt2946

Big thanks guys! @FossilDAWG @DPS Ammonite @Auspex 

 

I am very glad that I joined this community, I have received great responses to my curiosity. I guess the reason why we do not see any evidence of shark activity is due to multiple factors. The water was cold and turbid. Geological movement of land would of directed any teeth into areas not easily accessible by us today (bottom of the lake). The Champlain Sea was also a very short lived Sea with an even shorter marine period. This severely limited the abundance of any teeth that may have been dropped over time. Also, sharks that can tolerate cold brackish water are rare deep water sharks such as the Greenland Shark. 

 

I have learned a lot today thanks to The Fossil Forum! I will be sure to post if I ever stumble across an unlikely shark tooth around Lake Champlain! 

Edited by matt2946

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Auspex

The Forum thanks you!
Curiosity is infectious. Asking a question that no one has before gets folks with even a synapse or two of scientific mindset wanting to answer it.

 

20 minutes ago, matt2946 said:

...brackish water are rare deep water sharks such as the Greenland Shark.

I want to add to this, before it takes on an internet life of its own. The Bull Shark is highly tolerant of fresh water, and can even be found pretty far up the Potomac River occasionally. There are a couple other 'river sharks' in the world, too, but like any top-tier predator, they are scarce.

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DPS Ammonite
1 hour ago, Auspex said:

The Forum thanks you!
Curiosity is infectious. Asking a question that no one has before gets folks with even a synapse or two of scientific mindset wanting to answer it.

 

I want to add to this, before it takes on an internet life of its own. The Bull Shark is highly tolerant of fresh water, and can even be found pretty far up the Potomac River occasionally. There are a couple other 'river sharks' in the world, too, but like any top-tier predator, they are scarce.

Has anyone found shark teeth along the Potomac near DC?

 

So, the next time a really large tide hit DC, there will be an extra layer of security swimming around the National Mall and the Smithsonian. https://www.nationalmallunderground.org/problem/

Natl Mall Flood.JPG

Natl Mall Flood.JPG

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siteseer
On 8/6/2019 at 11:50 AM, FossilDAWG said:

The Champlain Sea was never fully marine, it was always influenced by glacial meltwaters and other freshwater input.  It was at its most marine only for a short time immediately after the retreat of the Wisconian glaciers and eventually transitioned to a fully fresh water environment (the "Lampsilis Lake phase").  As a result, the species found in Champlain Sea deposits are those that today can tolerate brackish environments and estuaries, as well as more fully marine environments.  For example, there is a resident population of Beluga whales at the mouth of the Saguenay River where it empties into the St. Lawrence.  Indeed the St. Lawrence estuary is probably a fairly good model for the Champlain Sea environment.  In the past, seals and whales in addition to Belugas came into the St. Lawrence, on occasion as far as Quebec City.  The typical Champlain Sea fish, such as capelin (Mallotus villosus), rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax), and sticklebacks, are quite tolerant of low salinity.  Some more marine species, such as tomcod and Atlantic cod have also been found but these likely represent the earliest, most marine phase of the sea.  Similarly the invertebrates reflect a brackish water environment, with more marine forms such as starfish being extremely rare although I did collect one from a Leda Clay nodule I found near Ottawa.  The most salt water phase of the sea was also the coldest.  Although there are cold water sharks, such as the Greenland shark, they are not common and are mostly deep water species.  Taking the St. Lawrence as a model, sharks are (as far as I know) completely absent.  Some modern sharks are fairly tolerant of fresh water and can swim a long way up rivers, but they are also warm water species so they would be excluded from cold low salinity environments.  If you don't find sharks today in the St. Lawrence it's not surprising that you don't find them in Champlain Sea deposits.

BTW my first published paper was on a Champlain Sea fossil fish (a sculpin, Myoxocephalus thompsoni).

 

Don

 

 

I agree, Don.  Only a few sharks are tolerant of low-no salinity water.  Sharks have to exert themselves more in freshwater because they are even less buoyant in it and they may not like the smell or taste of freshwater.  When you read about modern sharks, you read where sharks "frequent" because most species have comfort zones.  Some sharks tend to stick to certain depths and others stick to certain parts of continental shelves and/or do not cross ocean basins.  Others do not like to pass out of certain temperature ranges.

 

Sometimes, you read about odd reports of sharks outside their normal geographic range like hammerheads off San Diego (usually farther to the south off Baja California) but it tends to happen during El Nino years when the area is warmer than normal.

 

Jess

 

 

 

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caldigger

Why aren't there any shark teeth in Vermont?

 

Because those collectors in New Hampshire grabbed them all! :P

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siteseer
On 8/7/2019 at 8:22 PM, caldigger said:

Why aren't there any shark teeth in Vermont?

 

Because those collectors in New Hampshire grabbed them all! :P

 

And Vermont is such a narrow state especially to the south.  A lot of sharks were probably about to lose a tooth on the way through Vermont but they fell out in New Hampshire.

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Mark Kmiecik
On 8/6/2019 at 9:18 AM, matt2946 said:

Could someone explain why there would be remains of shark food (whales, seals, large fish) but no evidence of sharks? I am sure there is a scientific reason why but for the life of me I can't figure out why a beluga whale could swim into the Champlain Sea 13,000 years ago and a shark didn't follow it in.

 

Thanks in advance for the information! 

Occam's razor.

 

Perhaps there was enough prey where the sharks were so that they didn't need to follow any northward migration. If there's plenty of food right where you are, there's no need to travel hundreds of miles to eat.

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caldigger

Wouldn't there be spiecies that would have lived in the area permanently?

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PaleoNoel
On 8/7/2019 at 11:22 PM, caldigger said:

Why aren't there any shark teeth in Vermont?

 

Because those collectors in New Hampshire grabbed them all! :P

Whoops, maybe I should've left a few lol

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