The bones of a gigantic shark were found in Texas’ Duck Creek Formation. Although the remains date back to the early Cretaceous Period, scientists believe the ancient beast was more than 20 feet long.
As reported by Newsweek, the unusual bones were discovered in 2009 by Janessa A. Doucette-Frederickson, a member of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Paleontology Club.
Following excavation of the site, curators with the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History prepared the specimens for closer examination.
Researchers later determined the remains belonged to a specifically large prehistoric shark.
The study, which was published by Janessa and her husband, Joseph, suggests the three bones are actually vertebrae — which are far “less common than teeth in the fossil world.”
Although teeth would have provided more clues about the shark’s species classification, vertebrae are actually more useful in providing “important data on the biology and ecology of fossil sharks.”
— Carlos Gavina (@CGShark) June 5, 2015
Gigantic sharks are no longer common in Texas. However, during the early Cretaceous Period, the North Texas plains were not yet formed. Interestingly, similar vertebrae discovered in Kansas’ Kiowa Shale appear to belong to a large shark of the same species.
As discussed in the research article, Joseph Frederickson and his colleagues believe both sharks were large body lamniforms.
“… both formations share a similar shark fauna, with Leptostyrax macrorhiza being the largest of the common lamniform sharks. Regardless of its actual identification, this new specimen provides further evidence that large-bodied lamniform sharks had evolved prior to the Late Cretaceous.”
Although Frederickson is fairly certain about the species, he cannot explain the shark’s immense proportions.
“Goblin sharks and sand tiger sharks don’t get to the size that we are seeing with this fossil… That’s the interesting thing–this is one of the biggest sharks that ever lived, one of the two or three biggest to swim in the ocean ever.”
Frederickson suggested the sharks may have suffered from gigantism. However, it would be nearly impossible to prove.
— Shark Advocates (@SharkAdvocates) June 5, 2015
The researchers have estimated the unusually large shark’s size, but they have yet to determine its true age or habits. The researcher said one thing is certain: the shark “quite possibly would’ve eaten just about anything.”
Janessa and Joseph Frederickson said the gigantic shark found in Texas’ Duck Creek Formation was more than 20 feet long. Their research suggests the species may have reached nearly 30 feet in length, making them “some of the largest Mesozoic lamniform sharks of North America.”
[Image via Shutterstock]