This animal would have lived more than 300 million years ago while the Ozarks was completely underwater.
All that's left is buried in the wall of Smallin Cave in Ozark, Missouri. That means to see it, i put on a helment and went spelunking.
Kevin Bright leads tours into Smallin Cave near Ozark, Mo. Bright owns the cave, and he says there's always something to be found for those with a sharp eye...and a good headlamp.
"When you walk into a cave," Bright said. "It's just such a unique treasure. And a lot of times we don't appreciate the things in our backyard."
One pair of sharp eyes belongs to Matt Forir, who's been taking a look at some new and rare fossil life in the Ozarks. Three hundred million years ago, Smallin Cave was completely underwater.
"A lot of people think of Missouri, we think 'It's in the middle of the continent,'" Forir said. "You don't think of sharks."
Sharks like Ctenacanthus, which Forir says are rare in these parts.
"We don't find that in Southwest Missouri," he said.
Even more rare is the fact that this type of shark is different from other Ctenacanthus fossils found in Iowa and other parts of the world
That means this fossil could be the only one of it's kind to date. And Forir found the fossil when he saw just a piece of the shark's spine protruding from the cave wall.
"When I brushed it off I knew we'd found something pretty interesting," Forir said.
"We suspected it was something, it just looked like it was," Bright added.
Nearly as exciting as a prehistoric shark nearly six feet long is a series of other fossil discoveries at Smallin Cave including shark teeth, ancient animal bones, and Bright's favorite, a rare mastodon tooth.
"I can understand a mastodon more than I understand a shark," he quipped.
Finding prehistoric monsters is rare, but Bright and Forir both say they're most happy to find clues to what the world was like hundreds of millions of years ago right here in the Ozarks.
"You can't take the cave out of an Ozarks story or there's really nothing left," Bright said.