” Child shark” has handled an entire brand-new meaning. Newborn megalodon sharks were supersized fish bigger than many adult human beings, a brand-new research study suggests.
An analysis of the growth rates of the ancient ocean predators, which lived in between about 23 million and 2.5 million years ago, estimates that the sharks started life at about 2 meters long, scientists report January 11 in Historic Biology
Otodus megalodon is ideal up there with Tyrannosaurus rex in the pantheon of frightening extinct predators, however little is really learnt about the shark’s biology ( SN: 8/10/18). Its skeleton was made from difficult-to-fossilize cartilage, so what researchers do know mostly originates from fossilized teeth. For instance, paleobiologist Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University in Chicago and coworkers formerly used megalodon teeth, in addition to those of other ancient and contemporary sharks, to estimate an overall adult body length for the fish of a minimum of 14 meters ( SN: 10/ 5/20).
In the brand-new study, Shimada and colleagues had an additional, unusual piece of proof: megalodon vertebrae. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, the animals’ foundations can become hardened and reinforced by deposits of calcium salts, which can then be fossilized.
The scientists used an imaging technique called micro-computed tomography to study three unspoiled vertebrae from one shark. That means that the shark would have been about 2 meters long at birth– large adequate for even a newborn to be a fearsome enemy in the seas, the scientists conclude.
Shimada’s team has previously suggested that while in utero, megalodon sharks, like a few of their modern cousins, might have fed on unhatched eggs in the womb. That practice might have helped the huge fish to gain such a plus size even before getting in the world.