Megalodon sharks could eat prey the size of modern killer whales, 3D model suggests

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Megalodon is believed to be the largest shark ever to roam Earth’s waters. The now-extinct marine predator is known for having teeth as large as human hands. Researchers have so far been concerned with increasing their knowledge about megalodon fossils. However, a complete Megalodon fossil has yet to be found. To fill the gap, researchers have now created a 3D computer model of the megalodon shark using a well-preserved specimen. With this, they concluded that a shark can devour killer whale-sized prey and then live without food for two months.

For modeling, a team of researchers in collaboration with the University of Zurich (UZH) used a separate megalodon specimen discovered in the 1860s. A large part of Megalodon’s vertebral column was found fossilized after it died in the Miocene Ocean of Belgium about 18 million years ago.

“Shark teeth are common fossils because of their hard structure that allows them to be well preserved. However, their skeletons are made of cartilage, so they rarely become fossils,” said Jack Cooper, PhD student at Swansea University. Cooper is first author of the study, published in Science advances,

The team first scanned and measured each of Megalodon’s vertebrae before reconstructing the entire column. This column was then combined with a 3D scan of a Megalodon interpretation from the United States. After this, the megalodon model was completed after adding flesh around the skeleton using a 3D scan of the great white shark’s body.

“Weight is one of the most important characteristics of any animal. For extinct animals we can estimate body mass using modern 3D digital modeling methods and then establish relationships between mass and other biological properties such as speed and energy use,” said co-author John Hutchinson. said, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College in the UK. .

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A 3D reconstruction of Megalodon revealed that it weighed more than 61 tons and measured 16 meters in length. The team estimates that this giant animal can swim through the ocean at a speed of 1.4 meters per second and needs 98,000 kilocalories per day to meet its energy requirements. According to its size, the shark had a stomach of 10,000 liters and was able to eat whole prey up to eight meters long. The findings also suggest that Megalodon could travel thousands of miles without eating anything after consuming its large prey.

The team believes that the complete model of Megalodon’s body can be used for future reconstructions and further research on the animal.

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