The uncovered bones of a monster mega-shark are believed to be from a long-extinct species that was previously unknown.
Fossil hunter Fred Smith made the discovery while searching in Ringneck Ranch in north-central Kansas back in 2010.
In November, the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology published an article detailing Smith’s find with paleontologist Mike Everhart and professor Kenshu Shimada.
In it, the find was confirmed to be that of a long-extinct shark species that previously been unknown once swam in an ocean that once covered the US state.
The Cretodus discovered was a 91-million-year-old shark that was about 17 feet long the size of a modern-day great white.
Dr Everhart said: “There was this round fossil on one end and another round fossil on the other end and, to him, it looked like a tree branch.
“I took one look at it and said, ‘no, Fred, that’s a shark’.”
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The ranch’s owner Keith Houghton revealed the area close his family home was made up of ground that erodes often, meaning it was perfect for finding fossils.
Mr Houghton said: “I grew up in the environment."
He continued: “We used to go up there and search the area ourselves when we were kids. Mostly looking for fossils.”
Dr Everhart said uncovering shark fossils in the area was extremely rare and that, in most cases, even if one was found it is hard to determine how old it might be.
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He added: “When you’re picking up one shark tooth at a time, you don’t get much of an idea of how big the shark is or what it looks like.
He continued: “But in this case, we found, you know, like 80 vertebrae and 130 teeth.”
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