Cretoxyrhina is an Albian to ?Middle Campanian genus present in the fossil faunas of Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. In North America, it is usually reported as Cretoxyrhina mantelli (AGASSIZ 1843), common in Late Cretaceous sediments of the Western Interior Seaway (WIS) and the Gulf Coast. During the Turonian-Coniacian, it was likely the apex predator of the WIS until the rise of the mosasaurs during the Late Coniacian-Santonian.

Beyond Agassiz, some of the relevant reports include:

  • Sauvage (1870: 24-25, figs 39-41, 54-56) describes Otodus oxyrhinoides for a tooth-design from the Turonian of France; these lateral teeth are mantelli-like with small cusplets. In this paper, he also included Oxyrhina mantellii (1870: 21-22, figs. 39-41) and figured a ?first anterior.
  • Leidy (1872) presented specimens (Kansas & Mississippi) to the Academy of Natural Sciences and proposed Oxyrhina extenta for the broad-form mantelli teeth he found. A review of Leidy's 1873 illustrations (Fig. ), suggests these tooth crowns may be broader than other examples of (the 'cutting-clutching') mantelli, but generally follow that design-envelope.
  • Eastman (1894) described an associated Oxyrhina mantelli collected for von Zittel by Sternberg. Housed in a Munich museum, the specimen was destroyed in WWII; however, Eastman's paper nicely documented this specimen. In his paper, he listed the scope of taxa then attributed to Oxyrhina and synonymized extenta and oxyrhinoides with mantelli (pp 174-175). His proposed dentition arrangement (Fig. ) differs from that expressed on this webpage; however, many tooth-positions (Figs. & ) are well illustrated and reflect the cutting-clutching design.
  • Glikman (1958), recognizing this unique dentition-design, erected Cretoxyrhina (Type Isurus denticulatus GLIKMAN 1957) and family ().
  • Meyer (1974: 243-255, unpublished) reported this tooth-design from the Gulf Coastal Plain and concluded two subspecies should be recognized, proposing: C. mantelli oxyrhinoides (SAUVAGE, 1872) - smaller, Cenomanian-Turonian; and C. mantelli extenta (LEIDY, 1873) - larger, Santonian-Campanian.
    Despite the influence of this author, this recommendation only stuck with Manning (2006); other authors simply reported as C. mantelli.
  • Welton & Farish (1993: 102) included as C. mantelli an incomplete Cenomanian tooth-set in which the last six-seven laterals (Fig. below) have cusplets. Despite their small size, these teeth are similar to, but different from, some of the Coniacian-Santonian examples from the Kansas chalk; more like Sauvage's (1870: 24-25, figs 39-41, 54-56) Otodus oxyrhinoides.
  • Shimada (1994/97) describes an articulated Cretoxyrhina (broad form) dentition using x-rays — a dentition unlike extant lamniforms (Fig. below).

    Although C. mantelli is broadly reported in the Late Cretaceous of North America, other species appear to be present.

  • Zhelezko (2000) erected Pseudoisurus vraconensis for Albian teeth from Mangyshlak, Kazakhstan bearing cusplets.
  • Siverson & Lindgren (2005: 306) argued that the Zhelezko (2000) illustrated specimens included teeth of both the Cretoxyrhina and Cretalamna appendiculata-design; they referred to the former as Cretoxyrhina vraconensis. Siverson (2005, pers. com. 2008) noted the presence of this tooth-design in the Pawpaw Shale (Late Albian, not Weno Fm) of Texas; and, commented that Welton & Farish (1993: 101) included as C. appendiculata (fig 2) an example of this tooth-design.
  • Bourdon & Everhart (2011) describe a Cretoxyrhina mantelli (narrow form) dentition based on three associated tooth-sets from the Smoky Hill Chalk(Fig. ).

    Tooth Design

    The teeth of this genus are large, triangular and very similar in appearance to those of the modern mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus). The crowns are broadly based and moderately high, with a strong distal inclination in all but the most anterior teeth; the cutting edge is smooth (not serrate) and complete. A single pair of cusplets may occur in a few teeth, especially those from the lateral and posterior portions of the jaw. There is a broad lingual dental band present. The roots are strongly bilobate and rounded, with a prominent lingual protuberance in the anterior teeth. A nutrient groove is never present, and the central lingual foramen is small when present.



    Dentition Design

    Shimada's (1994/1997b) study of the Cretoxyrhina dentition design yielded an odd tooth-set with its multiple symphyseal and "intermediate" teeth (Fig. ). In May 2006, I had the opportunity to study two associated sets from the Hubbell collection. Not wanting to be influenced by Shimada's conclusions, I spent nine months (on and off) attempting to arrange them based only upon the propensities of modern lamniform sharks. The final arrangements (Figs. & ) compared remarkably well with Shimada's observations, and he (pers com 2007) noted no apparent errors. The narrow-form reconstruction was documented by Bourdon & Everhart (2011).

    These two arrangements do raise a question; is one species represented or two? The differences between the first Hubbell specimen (broad-form, Fig. ) and Shimada's (1997b: fig. 4) are largely confined to the number of teeth in the "parasymphyseal" and "intermediate" positions; variations of this nature can be seen in the recent sand tiger Odontaspis noronhai. Less explainable are the differences between the broad-form and narrow-form (Fig. ); the latter is smaller, but not enough to suggest an ontogenetic variation. The original locales are relatively close, therefore regional dimorphism is not a good option. Remaining possibilities include individual variations (unlikely), sexual dimorphism (possible) and chrono-variations (Hubbell material not documented to Hattin-level). Based largely upon the root development of the (assumed to be) lower A4 or L1, but also the sizing of the upper third anterior (Shimada's first intermediate), it strikes me that these tooth-sets might represent two species.

    The odd root-design of the fourth lower tooth in the broad-form dentition (also represented in Shimada's reconstruction) is so unusual when compared with the first lower lateral of extant taxa, that it begs three questions: 1) is it positioned properly and if so, 2) could it reflect a tooth originating from what might be a lower intermediate position or 3) could it be a fourth lower anterior that is mis-oriented? Given time, these questions should be answered; but they were neither explained in Shimada (2007b) nor can they be here.

    Selected References

    Agassiz, L., 1833-1845. Recherches sur les Poissons Fossiles, 5 volumes, and atlas 5 volumes, Imprimerie Petitpierre, Neuchatel, France, 1420 pp.
    Bourdon, J. and Everhart, M.J., 2011. Analysis of an associated Cretoxyrhina mantelli dentition from the Late Cretaceous (Smoky Hill Chalk, Late Coniacian) of western Kansas. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science; v114(1-2): 15-32. PDF (2.9mb).
    Cappetta, H. & Case, G., 1975. Contribution Ó l'Útude des sÚlaciens du groupe Monmouth (Campanien - Maestrichtian) du New Jersey. Palaeontographica Abteilung A, 151:1-46.
    Shimada, K., 1997a. Periodic Marker Bands in Vertebral Centra of the Lamniform Shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli, Copea, pp 233-235.
    Shimada, K., 1997b. Dentition of the Late Cretaceous Lamniform Shark Cretoxyrhina mantelli, from the Niobrara chalk of Kansas, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 17(2):269-279.
    Shimada, K., 1997c. Skeletal anatomy of the Late Cretaceous lamniform shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli, from the Niobrara Chalk in Kansas. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 17:642-652.
    Shimada, K., 1997d. Gigantic Lamnoid Shark Vertebra from the Lower Cretaceous Kiowa Shale of Kansas, J. Paleontology, 7(13), pp 522-524.
    Shimada, K., 1997e. Paleoecological Relationships of the Late Cretaceous Lamniform Shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli (Agassiz), J. Paleontology, 71(5), pp. 926-933
    Shimada, K., 1997f. Stratigraphic Record of the Late Cretaceous Lamniform Shark, Cretoxyrhina mantelli (Agassiz), in Kansas, Trans. Kansas Academy of Science, 100(3-4), pp 139-149
    Siverson, M., 1992. Biology, Dental Morphology and Taxonomy of Lamniform Sharks from the Campanian of the Kristianstad Basin, Sweden, Paleontology, Vol. 35, Part 3, pp 519-554.
    Siverson, M., 1996. Lamniform Sharks of the Mid Cretaceous Alinga Formation and Beedagong Claystone, Western Australia, Paleontology, Vol. 39, Part 4, pp 813-849
    Siverson, M. and Lindgren, J., 2005. Late Cretaceous sharks Cretoxyrhina and Cardabiodon from Montana, USA, Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50 (2): pp 301-314.
    Welton, B. and Farish, R., 1993. The Collector's Guide to Fossil Sharks and Rays from the Cretaceous of Texas. Before Time, Texas. 204 pp.
    Zhelezko, V., 2000. The evolution teeth system of sharks of Pseudoisurus GLIKMAN, 1957 genus - the biggest pelagic sharks of Eurasia [in Russian]. In: B.Chuvashov (ed.), Material on stratigraphy and palaeontology of the Urals, Urals Branch Russian Academy of Science. Publication House, Ekaterinburg 4:136-141. (In Russian)