The members of the Paleontology Club of University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee have discovered on a field trip taken in 2009 in north-central Texas, the fossils of a giant prehistoric shark.
The fossils have been recuperated two years ago from an area in north-central Texas called Lower Cretaceous Duck Creek Formation of Tarrant County.
Yet only recently a research paper on the discovery has been published in PLOS One Journal, which states that the fossils come from what is possibly one of the biggest predators of its era, if we are to believe Dr. Frederickson, University of Oklahoma doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology.
To emphasize the abnormality of the giant shark size, we could compare it with a common white shark of our present age and will discover that the latter only measures 15 feet long as opposed to the former, which was at least 20 feet long.
Meanwhile, paleontologists believe that the fossils discovered come from an approximately 145 million years old three large vertebrae ancient shark, Leptostyrax macrorhiza. Dr. Frederikson, however, states that without associated teeth, this identification can not be accurately confirmed. He also declares that the ancient shark morphology is pretty unique and has not been documented in another Cretaceous North-American shark.
Dr. Frederikson, along with his wife and colleague, Scott Schaefer, have graduated from the University of Oklahoma and have recently published their findings in the scientific journal mentioned earlier. A Gigantic Shark from the Lower Cretaceous Duck Creek Formation of Texas, is an interesting read for anyone passionate about the subject.
The findings cast a new light on what has been previously believed about Cretaceous sharks, which were believed to be quite small. But new information on the biology of this type of extinct species conveys that they swam the sea in groups and it is possible they could have been able to eat large amounts of food, anything up to their own size.
Even so, there are others who argue that the shark might not be Leptostyrax macrorhiza. Paleobiologist from DePaul University in Chicago, Kenshu Shimada, hypothesises that the giant could as well belong to an extinct shark which was not as yet recognized in the fossil record up to the present.
At any rate, regardless of the difference in opinions, the present discoveries and contributions show a new perspective to what has been known about ancient giant sharks up till now, and of Early Cretaceous era for that matter.
Image Source: Nature World News