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World's largest ever shark may have been a lot thinner, scientists argue

By T.K. Randall
January 24, 2024 · Comment icon 13 comments
What was megalodon really like ? Image Credit: Bing AI / Dall-E 3
Illustrations of megalodon based on great white shark proportions might not reflect its actual body shape.
Sporting several rows of deadly serrated teeth up to 5 inches long, this prehistoric behemoth, which lived up until around 2.6 million years ago, made the great white shark - which is less than a third of its size - look like a minnow.

For years, most artist illustrations of megalodon have shown it to be a huge, bulky predator because it is typically depicted as a scaled up version of the modern-day great white shark.

In reality, however, this enormous meat-eating fish may have been a lot longer and slimmer.

"Our study suggests that the modern great white shark may not necessarily serve as a good modern analogue for assessing at least certain aspects of its biology, including its size," said study lead author and palaeobiologist Prof Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University in Chicago.
"The reality is that we need the discovery of at least one complete megalodon skeleton to be more confident about its true size as well [as] its body form."

The researchers highlighted discrepencies with measurements of incomplete megalodon fossil vertebrae and the difference in jaw to vertebrae length ratio between the two species.

"The slender body would indicate that megalodon may not have been a powerful swimmer as much as the modern great white shark is," said Prof Shimada.

"As one of the largest carnivores that ever existed, deciphering the biology of megalodon is critical to understand the role large carnivores play in the context of the evolution of marine ecosystems and how its extinction influenced the development of the present-day ocean."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (13)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Doc Socks Junior 1 month ago
I have a nice Meg tooth that only cost me a couple dozen milligrams of blood and a little time.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Piney 1 month ago
Lucky dog.. I'm surrounded by Eocene marl deposits and never found one.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Doc Socks Junior 1 month ago
The trick is to get them pre-digested by rivers. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Piney 1 month ago
I had this great fossil location where I found zeug bones. Lots of little teeth. No big ones. I don't know if your familiar with the Mantua Pits which is owned by Rowan's paleo department but I have access to the outlying deposits because the farms were our woodland management clients and I'm overloaded with Cretaceous stuff. I'm also in the Chesapeake Bay Impact zone so the zeug bones are scattered. Nothing complete. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by Cho Jinn 1 month ago
Meg teeth are very robust for shark teeth, and are closer to, say, Otodus teeth (minus cuspids).  Do we have an analogue of a slim, slow moving predator with industrial grade dentition?  I think most estimates of Meg's size are a bit exaggerated, not to mention popular depictions, but I can't see it being, say, a larger Somniosus. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Myles 1 month ago
I also have one I bought several years ago.   Covers my hole palm and is certified.   i think I paid between $100 and $300 for it.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 1 month ago
To be totally honest I don't really care what it looked like. With those teeth it could look like Mickey Mouse and I would still be massively afeared,
Comment icon #11 Posted by Cho Jinn 1 month ago
I think Mickey Mouse with enormous teeth could make for a spooky character.  I'm reminded of the kid's story "The Teeth" that was collected by Alvin Schwartz  In a Dark, Dark Room, where the passive dread exists due to the grossly disproportionate size of the strangers' teeth and implications thereof.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Abramelin 1 month ago
The link is dead.  
Comment icon #13 Posted by Carnoferox 1 month ago
Unfortunately, these papers are not available anywhere else online, unless you have a subion to the journals. Is Sci-Hub blocked by your internet provider?

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