Health Editor’s Note: This would have been the biggest and most terrifying reason to not go into ancient oceans, if we had been around then. Not only huge but also with a mouth that could swallow you whole after first carefully chewing with those large razor triangles. It is easy to imagine a megalodon when looking at the great white shark of present times, which must resemble a baby megalodon…Carol
Reimagining the Megalodon, the World’s Most Terrifying Sea Creature
by Arik Gabbi Smithsonian Magazine
The mighty megalodon, terror of the ancient oceans, could grow to 60 feet long, with a mouth stretching more than 9 feet wide and a bite-force stronger than any other creature ever, living or dead. The violent damage it caused to its prey, and the rows of serrated teeth, have given the shark the reputation of an enormous prehistoric Jaws—“a great white on steroids,” says Hans Sues, chair of paleobiology at the museum.
In fact, Sues says, evidence suggests that megalodons, which lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago, were more closely related to modern mako sharks than to great whites, giving them more slender bodies than great whites and a bronzy back befitting a predator that preferred coastal waters.
Plentiful megalodon teeth (and a number of calcified vertebrae) have been found in ancient seafloors that are now exposed—in the cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay, for example. Those fossils were all Staab was going to get: Like modern sharks, the megalodon’s skeleton was made from cartilage, which decomposes. So to design the model, he and his museum collaborators used a formula that extrapolates from tooth length and the body geometry of modern relatives, and found that his shark would be 24 feet across the front fins. “That’s the size of a Cessna,” he told me.