By Brian (Ruibo) Wu
Reported by BBC News, the size of Megalodon made famous in a series of Hollywood films has been seriously revealed by groups of researchers. Previously, only the width and length of the Otodus Megalodon, as featured in the 2018 film The Meg, had been estimated from fossils of its teeth.
Recently, a team from Swansea and Bristol universities have combined maths with existing data of Megalodon to carefully reveal just how big it was on average.
The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Researchers used mathematical methods to study existing data such as fossils and analog with Magalodon’s living relatives such as the great white sharks to estimate the overall size of the megalodon, which lived from about 23 million to 3 million years ago.
Results suggest that a 16m (52ft) megalodon – almost three times as long as a great white shark – is likely to have had a head about 4.65m (15ft) long, a dorsal fin as large as an entire adult human, and a tail about 3.85m (13ft) high.
Jack Cooper, who is to study a Ph.D. in palaeobiology at Swansea University, described the research as his “dream project”.
He points out that “Megalodon was the very animal that inspired me to pursue paleontology but studying the whole animal is difficult considering all we have are lots of isolated teeth,” and “it’s significant that we have now been able to produce estimates of proportions and dimensions of the body parts when there are no fossils to go off.”
Previously, the shark was only compared with the great white, but the latest analysis from research was expanded to include five modern sharks, including the mako, salmon shark, and porbeagle shark.
Recently, teeth fossils of Megalodon are displayed in many natural history museums such as the American Museums of Natural History. Although the size of the Megalodon has been described numerically, personally visualizing the actual fossil of its teeth can be quite astonishing.