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Experts suggest reconsidering the body shape of megalodon, which was massive, terrifying, and slim.
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Experts suggest reconsidering the body shape of megalodon, which was massive, terrifying, and slim.

The star of Hollywood’s The Meg is a massive and intimidating creature with a massive set of jaws. It left even the tough movie actor Jason Statham feeling uneasy about its size.

According to recent studies, it is now believed that the massive ancient shark known as megalodon may have had a leaner physique than originally believed.

According to researchers, previous reconstructions of the extinct creature, also called the megatooth shark, were incorrect because they relied on the belief that its physical structure was similar to a larger version of the great white shark, which is currently the largest predatory fish alive on Earth.

However, the researchers state that a recent examination of data obtained from a partial collection of megalodon vertebral fossils indicates that its appearance may have been quite distinct, featuring a longer and more streamlined physique.

According to Professor Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University, our research indicates that the present-day great white shark may not be an ideal comparison for evaluating certain aspects of its biology, such as size.

However, he stated: “In order to have a higher level of certainty regarding its actual size and physical appearance, we require the unearthing of at least one complete megalodon skeleton.”

Shimada and his team published a study in the journal Palaeontologia Electronica, documenting the recorded length of the incomplete megalodon fossil as 11.1 meters. Previous research had estimated the length to be 9.2 meters based on the proportions of the great white shark.

The team has raised concerns that the megalodon has been inaccurately depicted using a juvenile great white as a model. Additionally, there are discrepancies in the ratio of jaw length to vertebrae between the two species.

Based on new studies and calculations of how fast the ancient behemoth could swim, the team has determined that it would be incorrect to base the body shape of megalodon on the proportions of a great white shark. Analysis indicates that the prehistoric creature was actually longer in shape.

According to Shimada, the slim body shape of megalodon suggests that it may not have been as strong of a swimmer compared to the modern great white shark. This aligns with his previous research which proposes that megalodon primarily swam at a slow pace and only used sudden bursts of speed to catch prey.

According to him, understanding the biology of megalodon is crucial in comprehending the significance of large carnivores in the evolution of marine ecosystems and the impact of its extinction on the current state of the ocean.

Professor John Hutchinson from the Royal Veterinary College, who worked on the research that is criticized in the new paper, stated that his team utilized the proportions of the great white shark to reconstruct the body form of the megalodon. They also considered the dimensions of other sharks. However, the new study does not confirm that this method is incorrect.

He stated that they do not disprove our hypothesis, but rather raise uncertainty about it.

According to Hutchinson, the new research makes paradoxical comparisons to the anatomy of the great white, but does not provide alternate measurements for the size of megalodon.

According to him, the research does not alter the fact that megalodon was a massive and intimidating shark. He stated, “It was one of the most formidable predators in the ocean and would have been incredibly fearsome.”

Evolving images

Not only Megalodon, but also other prehistoric creatures have undergone changes in their portrayal throughout history. Some examples include:

Tyrannosaurus rex

Reworded: Despite its massive size, large teeth, and sharp claws, the T rex was a formidable hunter. Contrary to popular belief portrayed in movies like Jurassic Park, it was not particularly fast. Recent research from 2021 indicates that their walking speed was just under 3mph, while an earlier study from 2011 suggests their top running speed was around 25mph.

When it comes to size, dinosaurs tended to be larger while the mammals of the same era were smaller. However, there were exceptions to this rule. For instance, Velociraptors were similar in size to turkeys, while recent studies have shown that some mammals could grow as big as a badger or a dog.

No pushovers: Some dinosaurs were terrifying meat-eaters, but mammals were not necessarily timid. A recently discovered fossil shows a mammal attacking a dinosaur, while others show the same mammal species with the bones of a baby dinosaur where its stomach would have been, suggesting it had been a meaty snack.

Professor Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh, stated that in the books he read as a child in the 1980s and 1990s, dinosaurs were often portrayed as green, scaly creatures. However, the unearthing of feathered dinosaur fossils in China in the mid-1990s revealed that many dinosaurs actually had more bird-like appearances. This discovery was quite surprising and altered the previously held image of dinosaurs.

Source: theguardian.com