Giant sharks once roamed the seas, feasting on huge meals

Aug 17, 2022, 12:18 AM | Updated: Aug 21, 2022, 9:23 am
This illustration provided by J. J. Giraldo depicts a 16-meter (52-foot) Otodus megalodon shark pre...

This illustration provided by J. J. Giraldo depicts a 16-meter (52-foot) Otodus megalodon shark predating on an 8-meter (26-foot) Balaenoptera whale in the Pliocene epoch, between 5.4 to 2.4 million years ago. At background right, a 4-meter (13-foot) Carcharodon shark seizes a 2.5-meter (8-foot) juvenile of the whale pod. The giant megalodon shark that roamed the oceans millions of years ago could have devoured a creature the size of a killer whale in just five bites, according to a study published Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, in the journal Science Advances. (J. J. Giraldo via AP)

(J. J. Giraldo via AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — Today’s sharks have nothing on their ancient cousins. A giant shark that roamed the oceans millions of years ago could have devoured a creature the size of a killer whale in just five bites, new research suggests.

For their study published Wednesday, researchers used fossil evidence to create a 3D model of the megalodon — one of the biggest predatory fish of all time — and find clues about its life.

At around 50 feet (16 meters) from nose to tail, the megalodon was bigger than a school bus, according to the study in the journal Science Advances. That’s about two to three times the size of today’s great white shark. The megalodon’s gaping jaw allowed it to feed on other big creatures. Once it filled its massive stomach, it could roam the oceans for months at a time, the researchers suggest.

The megalodon was a strong swimmer, too: Its average cruising speed was faster than sharks today and it could have migrated across multiple oceans with ease, they calculated.

“It would be a superpredator just dominating its ecosystem,” said co-author John Hutchinson, who studies the evolution of animal movement at England’s Royal Veterinary College. “There is nothing really matching it.”

It’s been tough for scientists to get a clear picture of the megalodon, said study author Catalina Pimiento, a paleobiologist with the University of Zurich and Swansea University in Wales.

The skeleton is made of soft cartilage that doesn’t fossilize well, Pimiento said. So the scientists used what few fossils are available, including a rare collection of vertebrae that’s been at a Belgium museum since the 1860s.

Researchers also brought in a jaw’s worth of megalodon teeth, each as big as a human fist, Hutchinson said. Scans of modern great white sharks helped flesh out the rest.

Based on their digital creation, researchers calculated that the megalodon would have weighed around 70 tons, or as much as 10 elephants.

Even other high-level predators may have been lunch meat for the megalodon, which could open its jaw to almost 6 feet (2 meters) wide, Pimiento said.

Megalodons lived an estimated 23 million to 2.6 million years ago.

Since megalodon fossils are rare, these kinds of models require a “leap of imagination,” said Michael Gottfried, a paleontologist at Michigan State University who was not involved in the study. But he said the study’s findings are reasonable based on what is known about the giant shark.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A Republican election challenger at right watches over election inspectors as they examine a...
Associated Press

Election officials brace for confrontational poll watchers

GOLDSBORO, N.C. (AP) — The situation with the poll watcher had gotten so bad that Anne Risku, the election director in North Carolina’s Wayne County, had to intervene via speakerphone. “You need to back off!” Risku recalled hollering after the woman wedged herself between a voter and the machine where the voter was trying to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey says 23 Kurdish militants killed in Iraq airstrikes

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish warplanes “neutralized” 23 Kurdish militants in a raid 140 kilometers (90 miles) inside Iraq, the Turkish Defense Ministry said Sunday. The ministry usually refers to killed militants as “neutralized.” It said the number of casualties in the mission in the Asos region of northern Iraq, which is controlled by the autonomous […]
1 day ago
FILE - In this picture provided by Swedish Coast Guard, a small release from Nord Stream 2 is seen,...
Associated Press

Denmark says Nord Stream 1 pipelines stop leaking

HELSINKI (AP) — Authorities in Denmark said Sunday that the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipelines have also stopped leaking, a day after officials said that the ruptured Nord Stream 2 pipelines also appeared to stop leaking. The Nord Stream AG company informed the Danish Energy Agency that a stable pressure now appears to have […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis, second window from right, reads a message during the Angelus noon prayer from the win...
Associated Press

Pope warns of nuclear war risk; appeals to Putin on Ukraine

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for a cease-fire, imploring him to “stop this spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine and denouncing the “absurd” risk of the “uncontrollable” consequences of nuclear attack as tensions sharply escalate over the war. Francis uttered his strongest plea yet about […]
1 day ago
Mattresses lie on the floor in a holding cell at the basement of a police station which was used by...
Associated Press

10 torture sites in 1 town: Russia sowed pain, fear in Izium

IZIUM, Ukraine (AP) — The first time the Russian soldiers caught him, they tossed him bound and blindfolded into a trench covered with wooden boards for days on end. Then they beat him, over and over: Legs, arms, a hammer to the knees, all accompanied by furious diatribes against Ukraine. Before they let him go, […]
1 day ago
A protester takes down the Iranian flag on the ground of the Iranian embassy during the global prot...
Associated Press

Swiss police violently disperse anti-Iranian protests

BERLIN (AP) — Swiss police used rubber bullets to disperse protesters in front of the Iranian Embassy in Bern after two men climbed over the embassy’s fence and pulled down the Iranian flag from a flag pole in the yard. Police said late Saturday that nobody was injured and that the “large crowd” of protesters […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Giant sharks once roamed the seas, feasting on huge meals