The Shark Review

How the review works The aim of the review is to establish material that is of scientific merit and specimens which are good representatives, possessing public potential for display and community events. These two criteria do not necessarily go hand in hand; as a specimen may have a fantastic scientific research potential, but may not be visually impressive. Therefore the specimens are graded against two separate criteria: Scientific Merit (as a numerical value of stars) and Public Engagement (as a Gold, Silver or Bronze status).  For a more in depth look into the review criteria, click on the Review Criteria tab above.



Trays of Shark & Chimaera specimens

The shark collection consists of 6 trays containing 243 specimens from around the world and is almost entirely of Carboniferous, Cretaceous, Neogene and Quaternary specimens.

The bulk of the collection is stored in the archives at the Discovery Centre, with a few specimens on display at Leeds City Museum.



There is a strong representation of Cladodus, Otodus, Striatolamnia, Dwardius, Carcharocles and Ptychodus sharks; along with Psammodus, Copodus chimaera.


Dr Charles Underwood led the one day review, conducted as a systematic, tray by tray investigation, resulted in the discovery of some very good specimens. The results of this review will occur as an overview, with some of the highlights below.


The Silver specimens



A very good Cretaceous shark tooth specimen of Paraisurus macrorhiza(1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0107.02) rare to find with root, from the Cambridge Greendsand formation. Has no locality.




Three amazing Carboniferous shark teeth specimens of Cladodus sp (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0069.01-03) in a limestone matrix, from Richmond, Yorkshire, England.




A well preserved “tongue stone” Miocene shark tooth specimen of Carcharocles sp. (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.2010.44.1) with fine serrated edges and damaged root, from Malta.




An impressive Pliocene shark tooth specimen of Carcharocles megalodon (1 Silver star – Leedm.B.TN2230) with some minor damage, from South Carolina, USA.




Two Cretaceous Hybodontiform shark teeth specimens of Ptychodus decurrens (1 Silver stars – Leedm.B.TN4373) from Kent, England.




An uncommon Pliocene Great white shark tooth specimen, Carcharodon carcharias (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0105.03) with strong serrations and no root. Has no locality data.




A well preserved Cretaceous Otodontid shark tooth specimen of Dwardius woodwardi (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0104) with lateral cusps and root, from the Cambridge Greensand formation. Has no locality data.




Two wonderful Cretaceous Hybodontiform shark teeth specimens of Ptychodus marginalis (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.2014.04) with beautifully preserved surface details. Has no locality data.




A striking Pleistocene Mackerel shark tooth specimen of Otodus obliquus (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0035) slightly worn with lateral cusps and root, from the Red Crag formation. Has no locality data.




A very good Eocene Sand shark tooth specimen of Striatolamia macrota (0 Silver stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0028.01) with lateral cusps and root. Has no locality data.



The Bronze specimens



A good Cretaceous Sand tiger shark tooth specimen of Hispidaspis sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0103) from Cambridge Greensand formation, with no root. Has no locality data.







Two incredible and distinct Carboniferous chimaera teeth specimens of Pristodus falcatus (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0068.01-02) in a limestone matrix, from Richmond, Yorkshire, England.





A nice Carboniferous shark tooth specimen of Cladodus sp (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1874.09.01) in a limestone matrix, from Richmond, Yorkshire, England.




A very striking Neogene Weasel shark tooth specimen of Hemipristis serra (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0023.01) with root, from South Carolina, USA.




Two wonderful Cretaceous Hybodontiform shark teeth specimen of Asteracanthus ornatisimmus (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.1979.06.0149.01-02) from Berkshire, England.




A well preserved Tertiary Mackerel shark tooth specimen of Otodus auriculatas (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.TN4808) with serrated edges, a lateral cusp and slight root damage. From the USA.




A very good Tertiary Crow shark tooth specimen of Squalicorax pristodontus (1 Bronze star – Leedm.B.TN504) with fine serrated edges and slight root damage. From Maastricht, Netherlands.




A well preserved Cretaceous Mackerel shark tooth specimen of Cretodus semiplicatus (0 Bronze stars – Leedm.B.1979.06.0028.02) with lateral cusps and root, from Cambridge Greensand formation. Has no locality data.




A good Miocene shark tooth specimen of Physogaleus (0 Bronze star – Leedm.B.TN2311) with good preservation and root, from the USA.




A large and striking Pliocene specimen of Carcharocles megalodon (0 Bronze star – Leedm.B.TN4584) with slight damage. Has no locality data.


The review covered 243 specimens, establishing the following summary.


Shark summ

Gold = A truly amazing specimen; Silver = A very good specimen that has great potential; Bronze = A good specimen which can demonstrate a particular feature; Clear = A specimen that has limited visual qualities. 3 stars = High scientific importance; 2 stars = Moderate scientific importance; 1 star = Fair scientific importance; 0 stars = Supported by limited or no documentation.




Charlie rev

Charles referencing a specimen

The collection of shark (and other shark-like fishes- rays and chimaeras) material is relatively extensive and dominated by teeth. These are typically isolated with the notable exception of a partial associated dentition of the Cretaceous shark Ptychodus.

Scientific importance

Whilst there are a number of well preserved and potential useful specimens in the collection, it is evident that at some point a lot of the labelling of specimens has been lost or mixed. As a result, the scientific utility of the material is rather reduced. Despite this there are 3 main highlights of the collection which could be of use in future study.

There is a relatively large collection of teeth of the Cretaceous shark Ptychodus. This includes one partial dentition, and isolated teeth of a number of species. These all appear to originate from the Chalk of South-eastern England but usually without more data. These teeth are actually rare in the Chalk but were collected very intensively in the 19th C. by quarry workers for sale and so there are a large number in collections, most with little or no data.

There are a reasonable number of teeth from the mid Cretaceous Cambridge Greensand. This is a unit no longer accessible and so material cannot be recollected. There are relatively few well preserved teeth, as is typical for this unit, but quite a number of genera are represented.

There are a small number of teeth from the Lower Carboniferous of the Richmond area. These are not that well preserved or prepared but indicate the potential for a significant site that could be re-collected if more data were to come to hand, especially as micro teeth are usually far more common than large ones, and so sampling for these has the potential to yield an important fauna.

In addition, there are very large numbers of teeth that appear to originate from the Red Crag basement bed, which is exposed in Essex and Suffolk. This bed is Pleistocene in age but contains fossils reworked from the Pliocene and Miocene (neither of which are currently exposed in the area) and from the underlying Eocene London Clay. The collection includes sharks and rays from the Pliocene/Miocene and sharks, rays and a chimaeroid from the London Clay. The preservation is typically poor and many of the teeth are very highly abraded. The number of specimens suggests intensive collecting in the past, but lack of provenance, and poor preservation, renders the utility of the material rather limited.

Outreach and other importance

As with many collections of fossil sharks, there are a significant number of teeth of Carcharocles megalodon, at least some from the United States eastern seaboard. These are of minimal scientific significance, as better preserved specimens are very well known, but are very useful for outreach. Teeth are very large and many have well preserved serrations.

The fossil sharks, along with all the other collections are open and free for anyone to view by appointment, just call Leeds Discovery Centre on 0113 378 2100 or email


I would like to take this opportunity to thank Charlie for a great day and identifying so many of the specimens during this wonderful review.




Posted on November 19, 2015, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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