It’s a good thing this now extinct species of salmon aren’t the salmon we know today, otherwise the plot of Jaws may have looked very different and bears would have reason to stay away from their favorite food. That’s because this salmon that frequented California rivers a long, long time ago and were up to 9 feet long and had teeth over 1 inch long.
Even though the fish sounds like a prime example of a predator, it’s suspected it most likely fed by filtering plankton as it swam. Its massive teeth were more than likely strictly for defending itself and it eggs.
This particular salmon could even live in both saltwater and freshwater. Interestingly, the salmon in freshwater were found to have longer teeth with more wear on the than the saltwater variety.
“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,” Sankey said in a statement.
“These giant, spike-toothed salmon were amazing fish. You can picture them getting scooped out of the Proto-Tuolumne River [near Modesto, California] by large bears 5 million years ago.” said Dr. 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!”.