The largest shark in history was even bigger than previously believed

The fossilized teeth of megalodons (Otodus megalodon) suggest that they were the largest sharks to ever swim in our planet's ocean waters. However, a new method for estimating their size suggests that they were still larger than scientists believed.

Megalodons inhabited our planet between 23 million to about 3.6 million years ago. Although the cartilaginous skeletons of these animals decomposed and left virtually no trace, their teeth are abundant in the fossil record.

Sharks continually change their teeth and can have as many as 40,000 of them throughout their lives. A megalodon could have as many as 276 teeth in its mouth at one time, the scientists estimate.

However, measuring the size of a shark from teeth is not an exact science, especially when it comes to an extinct species, such as the megalodon, since it may have had a different body structure than modern sharks. Estimates of the size of the megalodon range, but scientists generally agree that they measure between 15 and 18 meters.

Traditionally, scientists often use equations based on the length of the teeth to estimate the size of a shark. However, a new method based on the width of the teeth suggests that the actual size of the prehistoric giant shark was about 20 meters long.

I was quite surprised that no one had thought of this before. The sheer beauty of this method must have been too obvious to be seen. Our model is much more stable than previous methods, said Ronny Maik Leder, one of the study's authors. and paleontologist at the German Museum of Natural History.

The new method is not perfect, as there may be variations in the distances between the sharks' teeth. However, the new research appears to provide a more accurate estimate of the true size of this ancient predator.

Although this potentially advances our understanding, we have not really resolved the question of how big the megalodon was. More can still be done, but that would probably require finding a complete skeleton, said Víctor Pérez, one of the authors of the study. and a specialist at the Calvert Marine Museum, in the United States.

The study was published in the scientific journal Palaeontologia Electronica.

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