Researchers from the University of Bristol and Swansea University have conducted a new study on ancient megalodon sharks. The megalodon is the largest marine predator the earth has ever seen and is over twice as large as the great white shark. The new study has allowed scientists to shed light on exactly how gigantic the ancient megalodon was.
During the research, the scientists pointed out that the massive sharks’ fossils are typically huge with triangular teeth larger than a human’s hand. Relying on those fossilized teeth, the researchers used mathematical formulas to determine the shark’s size when alive. The team also made detailed measurements of modern sharks to help with the predictions for the megalodon.
What the team found was that an adult megalodon could reach 52.5-feet long. One factor that made the scientists’ task easier is that megalodons were born with the same proportions as adults. While human babies are born with short limbs and large heads, the megalodon was born with the same proportions as adults. Maintaining the same proportions its entire life allowed scientists to extrapolate data about growth using information sourced from modern sharks.
A megalodon that was 52.5-feet long would’ve had a head about 15.3-feet long, a dorsal fin about 5.3 feet tall, and a tail around 12.6 feet high. Scientists point out that an adult human could have stood on the shark’s back and been about the same height as the dorsal fin.
A modern great white shark can be over 20 feet long, making it much smaller than the megalodon. The great white may be the reason the megalodon is extinct. The great white has serrated teeth, which could have given it an edge in the engine environment compared to the megalodon in capturing and eating prey, leading to the megalodon’s downfall.