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Megalodon Could Have Been Extra Slender than Beforehand Thought | Sci.Information Categorical Instances

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The megatooth shark, Otodus megalodon, which seemingly reached not less than 15 m in complete size, is an iconic extinct shark represented primarily by its gigantic enamel within the Neogene fossil report. This historical species is essentially identified solely from its enamel and vertebrae within the fossil report. Thus, the residing nice white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) has historically been used as a mannequin for the physique type of Otodus megalodon in earlier research. The brand new research, nonetheless, illuminates that Otodus megalodon had a physique kind that was extra elongated than the nice white shark.

Otodus megalodon went extinct 3.6 million years in the past. Picture credit score: Alex Boersma / PNAS.

Additionally known as Carcharocles megalodon, Otodus megalodon is a huge megatooth shark that lived on the earth’s oceans from 23 to three.6 million years in the past.

This creature is usually portrayed as a super-sized monster in fashionable tradition, with latest examples within the sci-fi movies. Earlier research assume that the shark seemingly reached lengths of not less than 15 m.

Nevertheless, Otodus megalodon is essentially identified solely from its enamel and vertebrae within the fossil report — a somewhat incomplete set of knowledge from which to attract assumptions.

Thus, the fashionable nice white shark was historically used as a mannequin for Otodus megalodon our bodies in earlier research. That mannequin led paleontologists to conclude that the shark was spherical and stocky like nice whites.

“Earlier analysis depicted the shark species with a stocky physique form like that of the white shark and different lamnid species, however with the brand new research disputing this physique form interpretation,” stated Dr. Mikael Siversson, a researcher on the Western Australian Museum.

“The mismatch between the stocky construct of Otodus megalodon in revealed paleoartistic reconstructions and the surprisingly small diameter of the biggest identified vertebral centra of this species has bothered me for a very long time.”

“The species had the truth is an unusually slender vertebral column, which is at odds with earlier reconstructions depicting megalodon as a girthy shark.”

“The one fossil materials accessible of this huge shark includes related dentitions, a comparatively full vertebral column and remoted vertebrae and shed enamel.”

“Though we’ve got an excellent concept in regards to the measurement of the mouth from related dentitions seemingly together with all tooth positions, different anatomical options akin to the form of the fins and tail are unknown.”

“It was refreshing to see such broad and powerful assist amongst my friends for a extra strictly evidence-based view on the anatomy of this iconic species of extinct shark.”

“Going ahead, any significant dialogue on the anatomy of this shark apart from the dimensions and robustness of the jaws would require the invention of more-or-less full skeletons.”

Otodus megalodon body shape comparison. Image credit: Western Australian Museum.

Otodus megalodon physique form comparability. Picture credit score: Western Australian Museum.

“Our staff reexamined the fossil report, and found Otodus megalodon was extra slender and presumably even longer than we thought. Subsequently, a greater mannequin could be the fashionable mako shark,” stated Dr. Phillip Sternes, a researcher on the College of California Riverside.

“It nonetheless would have been a formidable predator on the prime of the traditional marine meals chain, however it will have behaved otherwise primarily based on this new understanding of its physique.”

“Regardless of the most important scientific development in our new research, the truth that we nonetheless don’t know precisely how Otodus megalodon appeared retains our creativeness going,” stated DePaul College’s Professor Kenshu Shimada.

“The continued thriller like this makes paleontology, the research of prehistoric life, an interesting and thrilling scientific subject.”

The research was revealed within the journal Palaeontologia Electronica.


Phillip C. Sternes et al. 2024. White shark comparability reveals a slender physique for the extinct megatooth shark, Otodus megalodon (Lamniformes: Otodontidae). Palaeontologia Electronica 27 (1): a7; doi: 10.26879/1345

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