Sharks in the sky? It’s not a bad movie; it’s natural history

December 18, 2018

It was a prehistoric clash of the ages that didn’t end pretty when a monster in the sky clashed with a beast of the deep.


The sorry outcome for one particular flying reptile is brutally recorded on a fossil where a shark chomped its neck, leaving a telltale tooth wedged against a vertebra. USC researchers who studied the bones kept at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum say it’s a rare glimpse of wildlife interactions in the age of dinosaurs.


A window to a lost world, the findings help fill gaps about how a group of extinct flying creatures – pterosaurs – lived and behaved. The study appears in the Dec. 14 issue of Peer J — the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences.


“Understanding the ecology of these animals is important to understanding life on Earth through time,” said the study’s senior author, Michael Habib, an assistant professor of integrative anatomical sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and a research associate at the Natural History Museum.