A 100 million year old shark fossil was found in the Duck Creek Formation outside Fort Worth, Texas, by doctoral candidates.
Once upon a time in 2009, Janessa A. Doucette-Frederickson, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma, went to explore a dig in the Duck Creek Formation of Texas and stumbled upon large, curious rock. She later examined it with assistance of co-researcher and then boyfriend (now husband), Joseph Frederickson, and a few other fellow paleontologists, and found that the curious rock was in fact the fossil of a giant, ancient shark.
The team of researchers analyzed three (3) large vertebrae, each with a diameter measuring 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters), and concluded that shark had to be somewhere between 20 feet and 22 feet long (roughly 7 meters). While it is not the biggest shark fossil to have ever been discovered this side of the ocean, it is still large enough to be dubbed “gigantic shark”.
Mr. Frederickson gave a statement saying that “We thought it was a really large fossil and we all came together and dug it out. We realized it was a really large shark”. Things did not progress smoothly however, as the couple did not have the needed background to conduct studies on shark fossils, and experts who did have the appropriate background brought into question the discovery’s context.
The study, published earlier this week, on Wednesday (June 3, 2015), in the journal PLOS One, informs that the gigantic shark fossil was left unstudied for several years until Mr. Frederickson became doctoral student at the University of Oklahoma and started feeling confident about his abilities to properly document the finding.
The Fredericksons gave the fossil to the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, where the remains of another shark from Kansas were residing. While shark from Kansas was in a considerably worse condition than the one found by the Fredericksons, it did allow the couple to compare them and try deduce whether or not they belonged to the same species and whether or not it was a species commonly found in the area in the distant past.
They found that they most likely belong to the same species. If digitally reconstructed, their appearance would not resemble that of a Great White shark. It’s a primitive species, which means that it is much closely related to the Sand Tiger or to the Goblin shark. The main difference is that the ancient sharks grew a lot bigger.
An exact classification was not possible as the shark specimens were missing their teeth.
Further research is needed in order to asses if gigantic sharks did in fact make a home of the Texas region, but Mr. Frederickson did share that due to their size, they would’ve made ferocious predators able to eat pretty much anything they stumbled upon.
The Megalodon still remains the lagers shark to have ever existed.
Image Source: natureworldnews.com