We all know that with a name like “megalodon,” the ancient, extinct shark must have been very large.
That said, without any real size comparison or a chance to see even a complete skeleton with our own eyes, it can be tough to actually imagine it.
Otodus megalodon lived from 23 million to 3 million years ago, had the serrated teeth of a carnivore, and was so big it must have been a voracious predator.
Fossil shows us the size and makeup of their teeth, but with little other skeletal evidence to go on, trying to assess their whole size and shape has been a guessing game.
This study came to its calculations with researchers from Swansea University and the University of Bristol using mathematical models to compare its body size to five shark species still living, all of which shared physiological characteristics.
“Megalodon is not a direct ancestor of the Great White but is equally related to other macropredatory sharks such as the Makos, Salmon shark, and Porbeagle shark, as well as the Great White. We pooled detailed measurements of all five to make predictions about Megalodon.”
They tracked how these other, related species of sharks grew as they aged to get an idea about how megalodon might have grown in a similar pattern before settling into its adult form.
That’s how they got to the adult length of around 16 meters (the 52 feet) – which makes them more than twice the size of modern great white sharks.
Their heads were around 15 feet in length and they had a bite force of 10 tons, compared to a great white’s bite force of around “just” 2 tons.
Now you know for sure that you wouldn’t have wanted to run into one of these buggers – and I’m going to go ahead and stay away from the great whites, too, even if they are sort of puny in comparison.