A team of paleontologists has discovered fossils belonging to a monster prehistoric shark that lived more than 100 million years ago.
The shark fossils were found near Forth Worth and consist of the shark’s vertebrae.
The scientists believe the prehistoric shark swam in the shallow waters that covered what we know today as Texas hundreds of millions years ago.
The team of researchers who discovered the fossils was made of college students who were on a paleontological trip looking for fossils in the Duck Creek Formation area.
They were hoping to find some fossils and bring them home to display.
As they students were walking and searching for fossils along a section where the limestone was exposed, the wife of one of the students, Janessa Doucette-Frederickson stumbled upon a boulder that was in the middle of the section and she noticed there was a fossil inside it.
Joseph Frederickson, the husband of the student who discovered the boulder, said they dug out and realized that what they had found was actually a unique fossil.
Frederickson said that none of them had ever seen a fossil that big and they decided to dig further to see what they could find. In the end they discovered three fossils, according to Frederickson.
The fossils consist of vertebrae from a shark that was measured at least 20 feet long and lived more than 100 million years ago.
As a comparison, today’s great white sharks can reach up to 15 foot in length.
The fossils were discovered in the Duck Creek Formation where many fossils from the Cretaceous Period had been found throughout time. The paleontological site is west of Fort Worth and goes all the way to Oklahoma.
The Fredericksons are graduate students at the University of Oklahoma.
The couple detailed their findings in a study called “A Gigantic Shark From the Lower Cretaceous Duck Creek Formation of Texas”.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.
While the researchers were examining the prehistoric shark vertebrae, they found out about another massive ancient shark that was discovered in Kansas and lived around the same period.
That shark was even larger than this one, measuring more than 27 feet.
According to Frederickson, the two sharks probably lived alongside each other.
He said that the recent findings change the way scientists perceive sharks that lived in that period:
“We didn’t even know there were sharks this large that could have been dominant predators. These sharks kind of paved the way for other gigantic species.”
Image Source: sandyfeetmom