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Fisherman catches shark jawbone in Mississippi River near Grand Rapids

"Shark Week" came early for an angler in northern Minnesota who caught a shark's jawbone while fishing the Mississippi River near Highway 6, just west of Grand Rapids.

"When we saw it coming up, we had no idea what it was," said Joey Piskel, who watched his dad, Joe Piskel, reel it in. "We thought it was a sheep skull or cow jaw until we saw the teeth."

Joe, 59, of Grand Rapids, and Joey, 32, of Bemidji, brought the 9- to 10-inch jawbone to the Grand Rapids Department of Natural Resources office to be identified. A fisheries biologist there said the jawbone is from a sand tiger shark, a salt water species that can't survive in fresh water.

Well then, how'd it get there?

"I couldn't speculate how it got there, but it's doubtful it got there on its own," said Cheri Zeppelin, information offer for the DNR. "The dams that are downstream from this don't allow for that kind of fish passage."

After identifying the species, the jawbone was returned to the angler.

Photos of the jawbone were shared on the popular "Fishesota" Facebook page and Fishing Minnesota Facebook page, leading to lively discussions about how it got in the Mississippi River in the first place.

One group member suggested the jaws came from a gift shop in Florida. DNR officials said the jawbone didn't appear to be a "tourist trinket."

In a photo shared by the DNR, the jawbone has some discoloration that the fishermen believed were bits of flesh.

"Oh, yeah, it had a lot of flesh and was very rotten smelling," Joey said.

"Currently, it's in some hydrogen peroxide to clean it up, then dry it out to hang it on the wall," Joey said. "I'll have a great opening of fishing memory forever with my dad."

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