Study Shows O. Megalodon Was The Largest Shark To Ever Swim In Our Planet’s Oceans

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According to a new study, the megatooth shark Otodus megalodon was the largest shark to ever swim in our planet’s oceans. O. megalodon is an extinct species of shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago. The exact cause of its extinction is still debated, likely a combination of environmental change and competition with smaller shark species played a role.

Despite its fame in pop-culture, surprisingly little is known about the life-appearance of the megalodon. Sharks have a cartilaginous skeleton that will quickly decay after death. Only their hard teeth survive the fossilization process. A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports discussing the body size of O. megalodon, concluded that a full-grown specimen could reach about 50 feet (or 15 meters) in length. A new study published in the journal Historical Biology shows how unique the size of this species was.

Kenshu Shimada, a paleobiologist at DePaul University in Chicago and lead author of the study, compiled a database of 70 shark species and they inferred size based on their fossil record. The study used measurements taken from specimens of all 13 species of present-day macrophagous (non-planktivorous) sharks to generate mathematical functions describing the proportion relationships between teeth dimensions, jaw length, and body size. Applying the functions to fossil teeth, the researchers reconstructed the body size distribution of extinct shark species over geologic time.

The study shows that