Lost Serengeti of the sea: The marine megafauna of Beaumaris
The Beaumaris fossil locality is a 1.5km stretch of shoreline between Table Rock in the southwest and Mentone Beach in the northeast, on the western side of Beaumaris Bay.
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If we were to journey back through time to a period five to six million years ago and plunge into the shallow seas that would one day lap the shores of what is now Victoria, we would find much that is familiar. This is particularly evident in the fossil shark fauna of Beaumaris. The antagonist from the shark attack on 19 October 2011, the harmless Port Jackson shark, is represented in abundance by the common fossil toothplates of its ancient predecessor, and the wobbegong, Orectolobus, was also lurking on the sea floor in its camouflaged splendour, just as it is today. Several other shark species cruised Victorian waters then as they do now – hammerheads (Sphyrna), bronze whalers (Carcharhinus brachyurus), the grey nurse (Carcharias taurus), porbeagle (Lamna), shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) and, of course, the great white (Carcharodon carcharias). But there were other species out there that today are strangers to the cool waters of northern Bass Strait, such as tiger sharks (Galeocerdo). At present, tiger sharks rarely venture further south than Sydney.
AAOD Journal Issue 9 (2011) – pages 70 to 78
By Dr Erich Fitzgerald
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