Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks. The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.
The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology. Palaeontologists have previously disagreed over the ancestry of the modern white sharks, with some claiming that they are descended from the giant megatooth sharks, such as Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon).
"When the early palaeontologists put together dentitions of Megalodon and the other megatooth species, they used the modern white shark to put them together, so of course it's going to look like a white shark because that's what was used as a model," explained Professor Dana Ehret of Monmouth University in New Jersey who lead the new research.
Modern day white sharks show similarities in the structure of their teeth with the extinct megatooth sharks.
As they both sport serrations on the cutting edges, early scientists working on the animals used this as evidence for the sharks being closely related.