20-Foot Giant Shark Unearthed In Texas

The discovery of a gigantic shark fossil the length of a two-story building has been announced.

Led by Joseph A. Frederickson, a group of amateur paleontologists stumbled on the ancient 22-foot long shark fossil while on a field trip in the Duck Creek of Texas. The find was made in 2009 but a research paper was only recently published in PLOS One Journal.

According to co-author Frederickson, University of Oklahoma doctoral candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology, the fish would have respresented one of the biggest predators of its era.

The shark fossil, Leptostyrax macrorhiza, may cause back scientists to revist estimates of when these massive predatory sharks first evolved.

A similar fossil found in 1997 in the Kiowa Shale area of Kansas, dates back about 100 million years ago to the Mesozoic Era. That particular fossil wasfrom a shark estimated to be up to 32 feet long.

In an interview with Livescience.com, Kenshu Shimada, the DePaul University paleobiologist who found the 1997 shark, said of the remains:

“It is also entirely possible that they may belong to an extinct shark with very small teeth so far not recognized in the present fossil record. For example, some of the largest modern-day sharks are plankton-feeding forms with minute teeth, such as the whale shark, basking shark and megamouth shark.”

giant shark fossil diagramFrederickson noted that these megasharks roamed the sea in gangs, and potentially could have eaten just about anything in size uo to 20 feet.

Frederickson JA, Schaefer SN, Doucette-Frederickson JA (2015)
A Gigantic Shark from the Lower Cretaceous Duck Creek Formation of Texas.
PLoS ONE 10(6): e0127162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127162

Illustration and Photo Credit: Frederickson et al.