320-million-year-old shark tooth fossil discovered off Clare coast

Published by Niall Sargent on

May 15th, 2017

A 320-million-year-old shark tooth fossil discovered by an Irish geologist along the Clare coastline may provide significant information about the biodiversity of our ancient seas.

The tooth belongs to a shark from the Carboniferous period which hunted in waters off the Irish coast at a time when Ireland was located close to the equator.

The discovery of the ancient tooth was made close to Doolin by Dr Eamon Doyle from the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark.

“Fossil sharks teeth of this age are very rare in Ireland and so it extends the known range of fossil sharks in Ireland,” said Dr Doyle.

“Equally significant is the information it gives us about the biodiversity of these ancient seas,” he added.  “This shark tooth tells us that apex predators of up to 70cm were living here at the time.”

The fossil will be on public display on 25 May at an event in Ennistymon Public Library as part of the annual Burren Rocks programme.

The event marks the start of the annual Burren Rocks, which features a range of events exploring how the history, culture, flora and fauna of the Burren have been shaped by the region’s geology.

On Monday 28th May, archaeologists and students of NUI Galway’s Irish Field school of Prehistoric Archaeology will turn the sod on a new excavation at Parkabinnia wedge tomb in the Burren.

The oldest rocks visible on the Burren’s surface were formed during the Carboniferous period, approximately 299-359 million years ago.

These limestone rocks formed in shallow, warm, tropical seas close to the equator, with the last ice Age sculpting the rocks into their current distinctive shape.

Ireland’s National Biodiversity Week also takes place from the 19th – 28th May 2017. Over the course of nine days, over 50 free events will take place all across the country, celebrating Ireland’s diverse species and natural habitats.

For more details click here: www.biodiversityweek.ie/events

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London