The biggest shark to ever swim in our planet’s oceans is a lot like a myth among paleontological records.
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon) is reputable among the fossil record thanks to its giant teeth, which survived millions of years long after its cartilage skeleton decayed to dust.
Those giant teeth, as big as a regular human hand, helped scientists estimate the size of the killer beast, which had a jaw where you could easily stand inside, with some room to spare.
Figuring out the size of a whole shark based on teeth size is not a precise procedure, particularly an extinct one that may have looked different (anatomically) from modern shark, which, if we think about it, manifest a set of morphologies.
Estimates of the megalodon’s actual size ranged between 11 meters to over 40 meters, but they usually fit somewhere between 15 to 18 meters.
However, a new method of calculating the megalodon’s size according to the width of its teeth claims that the former numbers are somewhat of an underestimation.
The new research suggests that the giant shark’s natural size is somewhere around 20 meters in length. The fantastic news is that the discovery was made by chance, with the help of students who figured it out.
Ronny Maik Leder, a paleontologist from the Natural History Museum in Germany, expressed his amazement that nobody thought of doing the procedure before.
“The simple beauty of this method must have been too obvious to be seen. Our model was much more stable than previous approaches. This collaboration was a wonderful example of why working with amateur and hobby paleontologists is so important,” he added.