Sharks have been around for a long, long time, and of all the creatures that roam the Earth today they’re one of the few that have remained largely unchanged for tens of millions of years. A newly discovered species of ancient shark which swam the oceans at the same time the mighty T. rex lumbered on land was just given a very nerdy name, and it’s all thanks to its teeth.
The new species, named Galagadon nordquistae, is long gone. In fact, there’s virtually nothing left of the species at all, and paleontologists are left to guess what the creature looked like based only on its teeth.
The teeth, however, can tell scientists a lot about a shark, and researchers from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have determined that the shark was rather small, measuring only about a foot in length or slightly longer.
The teeth discovered by researchers were very, very small. “It amazes me that we can find microscopic shark teeth sitting right beside the bones of the largest predators of all time,” NC State’s Terry Gates said in a statement. “These teeth are the size of a sand grain. Without a microscope you’d just throw them away.”
Its teeth are also the reason the shark carries its retro-inspired scientific name. The “Galaga” in Galagadon is a nod to the incredibly popular arcade shooter from the 1980s. The teeth of the shark are kinda-sorta shaped like the spaceships in Galaga, and that was enough for scientists to give it a game-inspired label.