The giant megalodon is one of the most fearsome sea creatures to ever live and researchers finally know how enormous this goliath was.
With a dorsal fin as large as a fully grown human and a total length of 52 feet, the megalodon dwarfed the biggest shark alive today, the great white, which maxes out at about 20 feet long.
Gauging the size of the extinct giant fish is difficult because the animal had no bones.
As a result, paleontologists had to estimate body size based on fossilised teeth, which are larger than a human hand, and five modern species.
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Paleontologists believe the megalodon could grow to be almost as long as a double-decker bus at 52 feet. Mathematical calculations created estimates of its body’s dimensions
A megalodon could grow up to 52 feet long (bottom) and ave a dorsal fin almost as tall as the average human. The biggest living species of shark is the great white (top) which grows up to 20feet long
Researchers at the universities of Bristol and Swansea used mathematical methods and comparisons with living relatives to find the overall size of the megalodon.
The oceanic behemoth lived from about 23 million to three million years ago and has featured in Hollywood films, including the Jason Statham blockbuster, Meg.
In the study, published in Scientific Reports, the academics estimate a body size of up to 16 metres (52 feet).
An individual of this size would likely have had a head round 15 feet long, a 5 foot 4 inch dorsal fin and a 12.6ft tall tail.
This means an average sized adult human could stand on the back of the shark and just manage to peer over the top of the dorsal fin.
An average sized adult human could stand on the back of the shark and just manage to peer over the top of the dorsal fin
The biggest megalodons would likely have had a head round 15 feet long, a 5 foot 4 inch dorsal fin and a 12.6ft tall tail
South Carolina couple discovers giant megalodon shark tooth in a muddy river bed
A South Carolina couple made a surprising discovery while exploring the Stono River outside of Charleston – they found a prehistoric megalodon shark tooth larger than a human hand.
Jessica Rose-Standafer Owens and her husband, Simon Chandley Owens, were walking along a muddy riverbed when they spotted a pointy gray structure poking out of the ground that she was sure was a ‘shark tooth.’
‘If it’s a tooth, it’s going to be like biggest one we have ever found,’ Jessica said during the video, while brushing away mud to reveal it was in fact a tooth.
The couple said the tooth is 5.75 inches from the tip to the root, weighs just under a pound and is three to five millions years old.
Jack Cooper, who has completed a master of science degree in palaeobiology at the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences, described the study as his ‘dream project’.
‘I have always been mad about sharks. As an undergraduate, I have worked and dived with great whites in South Africa – protected by a steel cage of course,’ he said.
‘It’s that sense of danger, but also that sharks are such beautiful and well-adapted animals, that makes them so attractive to study.
‘Megalodon was actually the very animal that inspired me to pursue palaeontology in the first place at just six years old, so I was over the moon to get a chance to study it.
‘This was my dream project. But to study the whole animal is difficult considering that all we really have are lots of isolated teeth.’
Previously the fossil shark was only compared with the great white but the latest analysis was expanded to include five modern sharks.
The researchers first tested whether the modern animals changed proportion as they grew but found this was not the case.
‘This means we could simply take the growth curves of the five modern forms and project the overall shape as they get larger and larger – right up to a body length of 16 metres,’ Mr Cooper said.