Fossilised teeth of huge shark discovered in Australia

A rare set of teeth from a prehistoric shark that was more than twice the size of the ferocious great white shark has been unearthed on Victoria's coastline.

The chance discovery of more than 40 teeth from a Carcharocles angustidens shark that lived 25 million years ago has excited palaeontologists because it's the first time a set of the seven centimetre-long serrated chompers have been found in Australia.

While many individual teeth from this species of mega-toothed shark and its ancient relatives have been found around the world, only two other sets have previously been unearthed in New Zealand and Belgium.

Amateur fossil finder and school teacher Philip Mullaly initially discovered about eight teeth sticking out of a boulder at Jan Juc, near Torquay, about two years ago and contacted Museums Victoria.

Dr Erich Fitzgerald, the museum's senior curator of vertebrate palaeontology, organised his team to undertake a dig at the site in last year and uncovered more than 40 teeth and part of the shark's backbone.

"They are as sharp as they were the day they were being used to slice through the flesh of whales," he told AAP.

"Think a steak knife. They're sharp."

Carcharocles angustidens grew to more than nine metres and feasted on small whales and penguins while swimming the world's oceans between 33 and 22 million years ago.

The species was an ancient cousin of the infamous Megalodon, which at three times the size of the great white was the biggest and most ferocious shark to have ever lived before dying out about 2.6 million years ago.

Mr Mullaly, a school teacher from Geelong, was "blown away" when he found the first few teeth in pristine condition.

"I was in a bit of shock actually because I saw it and I thought this is looking like it's complete, like it's just fallen out of a shark's mouth even though it's 25 million years old," he said.

Suspecting they were a rare find, Mr Mullaly contacted Dr Fitzgerald, who he knew from previous discoveries of whale fossils.

Dr Fitzgerald said teeth and bits of vertebrae are usually the only parts of a shark's body that are found by fossil hunters as the creature is made up mostly of cartilage, a soft tissue that doesn't fossilise well.

"So to have fossil finds like this one from Jan Juc where there are several teeth and part of a vertebra is pretty rare," he said.

The collection of teeth will go on public display for six months at Museums Victoria, Melbourne.

"People can get a real sense of the past from seeing them," Mr Mullaly said.

"They're really beautiful objects."



US federal agency admits losing track of 1,488 'vulnerable' migrant children

Twice in less than a year, the US federal government has lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children after placing them in the homes of sponsors across the country, federal officials have acknowledged.

The Health and Human Services Department recently told Senate staffers that case managers could not find 1,488 children after they made follow-up calls to check on their safety from April through June.

That number represents about 13 per cent of all unaccompanied children the administration moved out of shelters and foster homes during that time.

The agency first disclosed that it had lost track of 1,475 children late last year, as it came under fire at a Senate hearing in April.

Lawmakers had asked HHS officials how they had strengthened child protection policies since it came to light that the agency previously had rolled back safeguards meant to keep Central American children from ending up in the hands of human traffickers.

"The fact that HHS, which placed these unaccompanied minors with sponsors, doesn't know the whereabouts of nearly 1,500 of them is very troubling," Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, the panel's chair, said.

"Many of these kids are vulnerable to trafficking and abuse, and to not take responsibility for their safety is unacceptable."

HHS spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley disputed the notion that the children were "lost".

"Their sponsors, who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them, simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made," she said in a statement.

Since October 2014, the federal government has placed more than 150,000 unaccompanied minors with parents or other adult sponsors who are expected to care for the children and help them attend school while they seek legal status in immigration court.

Yesterday, members of a Senate subcommittee introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at requiring the agency to take responsibility for the care of migrant children, even when they are no longer in their custody.

An Associated Press investigation found in 2016 that more than two dozen unaccompanied children had been sent to homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay.

At the time, many adult sponsors didn't undergo thorough background checks, government officials rarely visited homes and in some cases had no idea that sponsors had taken in several unrelated children, a possible sign of human trafficking.

Since then, HHS has boosted outreach to at-risk children deemed to need extra protection, and last year offered post-placement services to about one-third of unaccompanied minors, according to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

But advocates say it is hard to know how many minors may be in dangerous conditions, in part because some disappear before social workers can follow up with them and never show up in court.

The legislation comes as the Trump administration faces litigation over its family separation policy at the US-Mexican border, which while it was in effect sent hundreds more children into the HHS system of shelters and foster care.

Some of those children have since been reunited with their families, while others have been placed with sponsors.

Oakley did not respond to questions regarding whether any of the children who the agency lost track of had been separated from their families before they were sent to live with sponsors.

The legislation is aimed at ensuring HHS does more to prevent abuse, runs background checks before placing children with sponsors, and notifies state governments before sending children to those states, the bill's sponsors said.

"The already challenging reality migrant children face is being made even more difficult and, too often, more dangerous," said the panel's top Democrat, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware.

"This simply doesn't have to be the case and, as this legislation demonstrates, the solutions don't have to be partisan."

The White House has accused Democrats and the media of exploiting the photo. Source: US ABC / 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Aussie Woolworths taking sewing needles off shelves to combat strawberry-tampering

Supermarket giant Woolworths has taken the extraordinary step of withdrawing sewing needles from its shelves nationally following the fruit tampering crisis.

"We've taken the precautionary step of temporarily removing sewing needles from sale in our stores. The safety of our customers is our top priority," a Woolworths spokeswoman told AAP.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across the country, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases.

The drastic decision comes as Agriculture Minister David Littleproud says the "parasites" responsible for spiking strawberries with needles should do hard time in jail.

The Government is rushing legislation through Parliament to ratchet up the maximum penalties for so-called "food terrorists" from 10 to 15 years behind bars.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants the tough sanctions approved before federal politicians depart Canberra today.

The halt comes after needles were found in different brands in Australia. Source: 1 NEWS

"I'm just focused on making sure no idiot goes into a supermarket this weekend and does something ridiculous," Mr Morrison told reporters in Royalla in NSW.

"We've booked the hall in Parliament for the day, we've paid the rent on it, and that means no one goes home until those bills are passed."

Labor will support the bill, but frontbencher Tony Burke wants the laws reviewed after 12 months.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus agrees, saying there has been very "little time to fully consider what the consequences of this legislation might be."

He told parliament that unintended consequences may occur by including "providing the public with food" in the revised definition of "public infrastructure".

Rebuilding confidence in the strawberry industry is the highest priority, says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, as he encouraged Australians to continue buying the fruit.

"Grab a punnet for yourself and a punnet for the nation," he said.

More than 100 reports of tampered fruit are being investigated by police across the country, many of which are thought to be fake or copycat cases.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton condemned people being stupid or malicious.

"The police are being driven crazy by all of these hoaxes because all it does is divert their resources away from the main investigation," he told 2GB radio.

Anyone who tampers with food could soon face up to 15 years' jail, in line with child pornography and terror financing offences.

There will also be a new offence of being reckless in causing harm, which will carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The most serious cases with national security implications will be covered by sabotage offences, with penalties ranging from seven to 25 years' jail.

"The reality is that ... they've got to do some time," Mr Littleproud told ABC radio.

"The one thing that people can do better than government is go and buy strawberries. Stick it up these parasites by going into the supermarkets and buying strawberries."

The Queensland and NSW governments are offering a reward to catch the culprits.

The government is also providing $1 million to make more food safety officials available to increase detection, fast-track recalls and assist the industry to rebuild confidence.

NSW authorities are investigating more than 20 incidents of needles found in strawberries. Source: Breakfast

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Pet food company fined $90k over employee's ill-treatment of bobby calves

The owner of a pet food plant has been sentenced for allowing one of his employees to ill-treat bobby calves.

Alan Cleaver from Te Kauwhata has been sentenced in the Hamilton District Court to six months community detention and 180 hours community work.

His company, Down Cow Limited was fined $90,000 dollars.

Mr Cleaver has also been banned for five years from having anything to do with the ownership or care of farm animals.

Charges were laid against Mr Cleaver, the company and an employee following secret video taken by the animal rights group, Farmwatch in 2015.

The employee, Noel Erickson was originally sentenced in 2016 to home detention but this was reduced on appeal by two years in prison.

Noel Erickson's actions were exposed by TVNZ's Sunday programme and caused widespread anger and disgust. Source: 1 NEWS

www.rnz.co.nz

Calf. Source: 1 NEWS


Police volunteer saves dog that was being dragged along road by truck

A volunteer for an Arizona sheriff's office has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a parking lot.

The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office says on its Facebook page that a sheriff's office volunteer Patrol-VIP "Volunteer in Protection" was at a gas station in Ash Fork this month when he saw the truck starting to leave with a dog leashed to the trailer bumper.

The dog was trying to keep pace with the truck as it headed toward an interstate highway. The patrol put on his flashers and siren and managed to stop the truck in time.

The close call was caught on the deputy's dashcam video.

The driver says he was distracted and forgot to unleash his dog. Charges aren't being considered. The dog was unharmed.


A volunteer for Arizona police has probably saved the life of a dog that was tied to a semitrailer truck as it pulled out of a petrol station. Source: Associated Press


Topics