[imagesource: Oliver E. Demuth]
When humans encounter sharks, the results vary wildly.
It’s likely that neither of those responses would have worked as a defence against Otodus megalodon, known more commonly as the megalodon, and the true size of the prehistoric shark was the focus of a new study.
Before you ask, yes, this is the species of shark that featured in The Meg, 2018’s outlandish movie starring Jason Statham.
I’ll give you a moment to watch the trailer:
Anyway, back to actual science, and this from the Guardian:
Researchers used mathematical methods and comparisons with living relatives to find the overall size of the megalodon, which lived from about 23m to 3m years ago…
The results suggest a 16-metre megalodon is likely to have had a head about 4.65 metres long, a dorsal fin 1.62 metres tall and a tail 3.85 metres long.
This means an adult human could stand on the back of the shark and be about the same height as the dorsal fin.
Researchers said that the species would have maxed out at around 18 metres in length, and weighed somewhere around 48 tons.
For a point of comparison, a fully grown female great white shark usually reaches a maximum length of around six metres, and males max out around four metres.
The bite force of the megalodon, reports CNN, would be “more than 10 tons, dwarfing that of a great white shark’s bite force of two tons”:
The team was able to estimate its size by comparing its teeth with that of modern shark species, which, they said, grow into adults in proportion unlike humans who are born with shorter limbs and a larger head.
This should help with the sense of scale:
A) is a 16-metre adult, b) is a three-metre new-born, c) is an eight-metre juvenile, and d) is an artistic reconstruction of a 16-metre adult.
It might be an unpopular opinion, but I’m saddened that the megalodon died out an estimated 3,6 million years ago.
Now, all we have are studies like this and Jason Statham movies.
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