Over the last month I’ve had to take on additional administrative and exhibit-related duties at the museum, and that has put a crimp into my ability to blog or get any work done in the lab. On the plus side, I been able to spend a little more time in the collections room, so I’m seeing some specimens that I haven’t looked at in quite a while.
The teeth shown above are angel sharks of the genus Squatina, and are the only identified angel sharks in the VMNH collection (it’s possible that there are as-yet unidentified examples in some of our coastal plain samples). They were found in the jackets containing “Camille”, a whale collected in 1969 from Mill Pond Creek in Hanover County, Virginia. “Camille” was the first fossil whale I prepared, as a VMNH intern in 1989.
Mill Pond Creek exposes the unconformable contact between the Nanjemoy Formation and Bed 14/15 of the Calvert Formation, a similar stratigraphic relationship to that seen at Carmel Church. The contact has a phosphatic lag deposit that contains numerous reworked teeth and bones, with non-reworked material such as “Camille” sitting immediately on top of the lag. Thus the age of these teeth is a bit uncertain, although their condition and preservation suggests that they are probably not reworked and likely came from the Calvert Formation.
Squatina is relatively rare in the Calvert Formation compared to sharks such as Carcharhinus, but it obviously does show up from time to time. It’s a bit surprising that we have never identified an angel shark tooth at Carmel Church (not even a reworked one), even though we’ve collected 10-20 times more teeth there than we have from Mill Pond Creek. One more mystery to add to the pile!