3D model reveals megalodon could salvage an 8-meter orcan in five clean bites

So far, only megalodon’s teeth and some vertebrae have been discovered due to their skeletons being made of cartilage which does not fossilize well. Therefore, the size and shape of other components of the megalodon’s anatomy inferred from these fragments remain questionable — and in some cases, outdated. For example, the study highlights that the megalodon’s body mass was last estimated in the early 1990s and was based on the now disfavored assumption that C. carcharias is a direct descendant of O. megalodon.

The new study reconstructed a 16-meter O. megalodon using an exceptionally well-preserved fossil to create the first three-dimensional model of its body. The study also challenges what was previously known about the apex predator’s ‘cruising’ speed and feeding habits.

The resulting model suggests that the megalodon had a body size of approximately 15.9 meters — considerably longer than a previous estimate of 9.2 meters. Additionally, the study explains that the specimen used to produce these estimates is smaller than other fossilized vertebrae discovered. Some of which are up to 50 percent larger than those used in the model, suggesting that the maximum length of the megalodon’s body size could be as much as 19.8 meters.

When compared to 33 extant species, including the megalodon’s closest mesothermic and macropredatory relatives, the study reveals that the 16-meter reconstructed shark was able to cruise faster — at over three miles an hour, to be exact. To put this into context, the largest living fish, the filter-feeding whale, cruises at around two miles per hour.

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