"Megalodon" by Karen Carr / CC BY 3.0

Megalodon’s hugeness was ‘off-the-scale’ — even for a shark

Oct 5, 2020

By Mindy Weisberger

Megalodon was the most massive shark that ever lived, and its gargantuan girth was highly unusual even among sharks, scientists recently discovered.

In fact, Megalodon’s gigantism — it’s estimated to have measured up to 50 feet (15 meters) in length, about as long as a bowling lane — was “off-the-scale,” researchers wrote in a new study.

Evidence from extinct and living sharks in the order Lamniformes, the group that includes Megalodon, revealed that not only was the king of sharks an extreme outlier when compared with modern species; it was also substantially bigger than the next-biggest extinct shark in the Lamniformes order by at least 23 feet (7 m), the scientists reported.

Modern sharks are certainly pipsqueaks when compared with Megalodon (Otodus megalodon). The biggest known predatory species, the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), grows to only about 20 feet (6 m) long, and the filter-feeding whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the biggest fish species alive today, measures about 18 to 33 feet (6 to 10 m) from nose to tail tip, on average.

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