A Lotta Lox: The Sabertooth Salmon

The ancient coastal waters of the Pacific, roughly 11 to 5 million years ago, were home to a bizarre and fascinating species of giant salmon with large spike-like teeth. This spike-toothed salmon reached sizes of 1-3m (3′-9′) in length, much larger than the typical salmon found in the Pacific today. These hefty spike-toothed fish would have made for a difficult catch at nearly 177kg. (400 pounds).

You can picture them getting scooped out of the Proto-Tuolumne River [near Modesto, California] by large bears 5 million years ago.” said Dr. Julia Sankey “Scientifically, our research on the giant salmon is filling in a gap in our knowledge about how these salmon lived, and specifically, if they developmentally changed prior to migration upriver like modern salmon do today. This research is also helping paint the picture of this area 5 million years ago for the general public and my college students, and it excites them to think of this giant salmon swimming up our local rivers 5 million years ago!”

The spike-like teeth of the salmon could be over 3cm long (1-1.5″), much longer than modern Pacific salmon teeth, even after compensating for their larger size.salmon_drawing

Source: Giant extinct salmon fought with spike teeth during upriver spawning events

The 4.5 foot long, 85 lb. carcass of a giant Chinook Salmon turned up in Battle Creek near Red Bluff, California in 2008. Perhaps ghosts of Sabertooth Salmon past still haunt our waters!


About Stan Flouride

THIS BLOG IS ALWAYS AD-FREE I make stuff and do things.
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