The megalodon was among the most frightening marine creatures ever to stalk the oceans of the World, reaching at least 50 feet (15 meters) in length (yes, the 2018 film takes some liberties on that front). But if you figured that, millions of years after the extinction, it had already hit the height of its potential to scare people out of the sea, think again.
As per science, which is expected to be released in the upcoming issue of Historical Biology, megalodons have not only given birth to the greatest shark babies in the world, but have reached this size (partly) by dabbling in an activity called oophagy—young sharks have eaten their underdeveloped siblings.
Researchers from Chicago and New Jersey note that megalodon babies, such as modern lamniform sharks, are most likely to feed on unclogged eggs in the womb to develop. This undoubtedly resulted in fewer sharks, but those who endured this deadly sibling competition were vast—greater than an adult human.
Using CT scanning technology, a method that uses numerous X-rays to recreate three – dimensional structure, on spinal fossils housed at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, the team calculated backwards the length of Megalodon’s body very roughly during birth, which showcases that it has a length of 2 meters, which is around 6.6 feet.
“As one of the biggest carnivores that ever existed on Earth, trying to decipher such growth parameters of O. megalodon is important to understand the role large carnivores play in the sense of the evolution of marine ecosystems,” said by DePaul University, Chicago’s paleobiologist professor, Kenshu Shimada.
In particular, the research was able to estimate that the shark grew at an annualized level of 6.3 inches (16 centimeters) per year for the first half-century of its life, with a growth curve model suggesting that the sharks had a life span of 88-100 years.