A fragment of whale rib found in a North Carolina strip mine is offering scientists a rare glimpse at the interactions between prehistoric sharks and whales some 3-4 million years ago, during a period called the Pliocene.

Image via Smithsonian.

Three tooth marks on the rib indicate the whale was once severely bitten by a strong-jawed animal. Judging by the 6 centimeter (2.4 inch) spacing between tooth marks, scientists believe the attacker was a mega toothed shark Carcharocles megalodon, or perhaps another species of large shark which was alive at that time. It’s not clear if the whale managed to escape or not.

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