A team of paleontologists have unearthed the fossils of shark believed to be as huge as a two-story building, fully changing the landscape of the Cretaceous Era.
Joseph Frederickson, accompanied by Janessa Doucette-Frederickson were undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee when they started their own paleontology club. During a club trip in 2009 in the area or Duck Creek Formation, Texas, Janessa happened to stumble upon a rock that seemed to contain a fossil of unprecedented size.
In 2010, the exact site where she stumbled upon the rock was being explored by the amateur paleontologists. The Duck Creek Formation is a known location for marine invertebrate fossils. It was here were a number of ammonites were discovered and the earth still holds a trove of fossil treasure to be brought to light.
It is known that 100 years ago, the Duck Creek Formation location was in fact a shallow sea, the Western Interior Seaway. It was here where the ancient shark was discovered by Joseph and Janessa.
The enormous 100- million -year-old sea monster, called Leptostyrax macrorhiza fully changed the perspective on Cretaceous Era large predators. According to Joseph Frederickson, his discovery could well be the largest predators that lurked in the waters of the Cretaceous Era.
The unearthed shark fossils feature edges that are thoroughly lined. This type of stripes are called lamellae and are indicative of the fact that the giant shark is part of the lamniform family, which includes the great white shark, goblin shark, sand tiger shark, as well as others.
Following the discovery, Joseph Frederickson turned to the specialty literature and found another shark vertebra that was similar to the one he had discovered. The shark vertebra that also dated to 100 million ago had been unearthed in Kiowa Shales, Kansas.
Analyzing the two sets of vertebrae from the two sharks, the Frederickson team draw the conclusion the the Texas shark was part of the same species as the Kansas shark. The new discovery places the Texas giant shark at 20 feet long and it seems that its appearance would be more similar to that of a Sand Tiger shark or a Goblin shark, rather than that of great white shark.
The Texas shark surely shed a different light on the Cretaceous Era and the largest predators roaming the land or sea at the time. Previously, it was thought that the pliosaurs were the largest predators of that time. They were long-necked and approximately 40 feet long, featuring a snout that would remind of lizards.
Now, both Joseph Frederickson and Janessa-Doucette Frederickson are Ph.D. students at the University and Oklahoma and intend to fully analyze their discovery further. The results as of yet are published in the PLOS ONE online journal.
The fossils they unearthed are part of a researcher’s collection in the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History. Image Source: examiner.com