An exceptionally well-preserved white shark fossil (Carcharodon sp.) is described here from the early Pliocene (ca. 4 Ma) Pisco Formation of southwestern Peru. This specimen preserves 222 teeth and 45 vertebrae as well as fragmentary jaws. The teeth show characters of Carcharodon, including weak serrations and a symmetrical first anterior tooth that is the largest in the tooth row. This dentition also shows a character of Isurus with a distally inclined but mesially slanted intermediate tooth. Although the Pisco specimen demonstrates characters of both Isurus, also known form the Pisco Formation, and modern Carcharodon carcharias, it is assigned to the genus Carcharodon and referred to herein as Carcharodon sp. While Carcharodon sp. From the Pisco Formation shows numerous diagnostic characteristics shared with C. carcharias, it differs from the extant species in having a distal inclination of the intermediate tooth. The precaudal vertebral centra of the Pisco Carcharodon preserve distinctive dark and light incremental bands that, based on calibration with oxygen isotopes, indicate annular growth couplets. The fossil shark was at least 20 (±1) years old at the time of its death. Based on measurements of teeth and vertebral centra, this specimen is estimated to have had a minimum total body length of 4.80–5.07 m, similar to estimates for modern older individuals of C. carcharias. Relative to the extant Carcharodon carcharias, the Pisco Carcharodon sp. grew at a slower rate. The fossil record of lamnoid sharks preserved in the Pisco Formation demonstrates that the modern white shark is more closely related to Isurus (I. hastalis) than it is to the species Carcharodon megalodon, and the latter is therefore best allocated to the genus Carcharocles.
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Vol. 29 • No. 1