Blogs & Videos: Fishes

Four Fossil Sharks That Are Cooler Than Megalodon

Megalodon is the T. rex of the prehistoric shark world—it might have looked like a Great White, only way, way bigger, and it’s everybody’s favorite. It’s had its moment in the sun, even starring in a fake Shark Week documentary saying that it’d been found in modern waters (don’t worry—megalodon has been extinct for millions of years). But The Field Museum is home to some really bizarre sharks that lived millions of years before dinosaurs were even a twinkle in the universe’s eye.

Graphic of a shark pointing to different physical characteristics

What Makes a Shark a Shark?

Sharks seem to have it all figured out, evolution-wise. Fossils of prehistoric sharks go all the way back to 450 million years ago, and sharks like the ones we know today emerged about 200 million years ago. This means that they survived the mass extinction that took out the dinosaurs and lived long before early human ancestors evolved less than two million years ago. So, what makes a shark a shark? Here are just a few of its unique physical features:

Clearing and Staining Fishes

Diaphonization -- otherwise known as clearing and staining -- is one of the most photogenic preparation methods used by research scientists. It's beautiful, but is it practical? We interviewed Dr. Caleb McMahan, Collection Manager of Fishes, on how he uses this technique to answer questions about the evolution of fish! Big thanks to Caleb for taking the time to share his work with us, and to Alan Resetar for lending the reptile and amphibian specimens!... as well as the extra light table because ours broke right before filming. :( 

Fishes in Guatemala - Last Update from the field

FMNH Fishes recently returned from our collecting expedition to Guatemala.  Here are a few final photos from the trip.  We will update again soon as we unpack our specimens and work to incorporate them into the Fish Collection at The Field Museum! susancaleb_tissue.jpg Susan and Caleb work on taking tissue samples from specimens after collecting at a site.

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