New Megalodon Facts
As reported by incredible shark expert Dr. Kenshu Shimada and his team of scientists, the largest predatory shark to ever live, Megalodon (technically Otodus megalodon), gave birth to a 6'+ long baby shark that grew so large by... eating its siblings! It grew 6"/year and lived up to 100 years old!
Megalodon is a shark that grew to 50' long and weighed nearly 40 tons. Its teeth (casts available for purchase here) exceed 6" in height, dwarfing the giant Great White Shark (Figures 1 and 2).
Fig 1. A tooth from a ~20' Great White Shark compared to a set of medium-sized Megalodon teeth.
Fig 2. The Megalodon may be a tad inflated in size, but the comparison is still valid, showing that Megalodon is a whale-sized shark!
Dr. Shimada and team studied the vertebrae of the most incredible Megalodon fossil ever excavated. Specimen number IRSNB P 9893 (also know as IRSNB 3121) is a series of ~150 disarticulated, but associated, vertebrae of the giant shark that were found in Belgium in the 1860s. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, which doesn't tend to fossilize. However, in extremely rare cases, a cartilaginous animal dies in a spot where the water chemistry ossifies (turns to bone) the cartilage, which is what happened here, much to the world's good fortune!
The largest vertebrae are 6" wide, absolutely gigantic for a shark. More important than their size, though, is their preservation, as some were so exquisitely preserved as to have their annual growth rings! The team used computerized scans to determine how old the shark was when it died, as well as determine how long it was when it was born and its length at death. How cool is that?
They concluded this specimen was 'only' 30' long and was 46 years old when it died. Stunningly, it was over 6' long when born! The team's analysis suggests Megalodon could live up to 100 years, and because it grew ~6" a year, it may have achieved a length of 50', making it larger than many whales alive today.
Some sharks today give live birth to a single, large baby that achieves its size by eating its siblings in the womb. This is known as oophagy (literally, 'egg eating'). You can find videos of it online (not for the squeamish). The growth rings indicate this individual was born over 2m long (over 6'). Being born so large means the shark has a great chance of surviving to reproductive age.
-Suggestions that Megalodon exceeded 50' in length do not stand up to scientific rigor, nor do weights exceeding 40 tons.
-Megalodon has been ascribed to the genus Carcharocles, Procarcharodon, Carcharodon, Megaelachus, and Otodus. The consensus in early 2021 is it is Otodus, which means Fossil Crates needs to make some changes to its documents!
-Megalodon had regional endothermy which means it was 'warm-blooded' and could regulate its temperature in cold waters. 'Warm-bloodedness' means it was able to generate instant bursts of energy to allow it to take down prey anytime, anywhere.