A new fossil discovery has helped quell 150 years of debate over the origin of great white sharks.
Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks.
The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.
The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology.
Palaeontologists have previously disagreed over the ancestry of the modern white sharks, with some claiming that they are descended from the giant megatooth sharks, such as Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon).
Now, additional evidence from the newly described species shows both white shark-like teeth shape as well other features characteristic of broad-toothed mako sharks that feed on smaller fish rather than primarily seals and other large mammals.
"It looks like a gradation or a transition from broad-toothed makos to the modern white shark. It’s a transitional species, and you don’t see that a whole lot in the fossil record," Professor Ehret said.
The mako-like characteristics of the new species, named Carcharodon hubbelli in honour of Gordon Hubbell - the researcher who discovered it in the field - were only found due to the incredible preservation of the fossil.
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