Giant megalodon shark that once roamed the seas could devour whale in a few bites, scientists find

Megadolon shark looking for his next meal
The megalodon was the largest killer whales when it dominated oceans 11 million years ago Credit: JJ Giraldo

A giant shark that roamed the oceans millions of years ago could devour a creature the size of a killer whale in just five bites, new research suggests.Scientists used fossil evidence to build a 3D model of the megalodon, one of the biggest predatory fish to ever live. As part of a new study, researchers used fossil evidence to create a 3D model of the megalodon - one of the biggest predatory fish of all time - and find clues about its life.The megalodon could travel long distances and was capable of eating whole prey of up to eight metres long, which is the size of modern killer whales.

At around 50 feet (16 metres) from nose to tail, the megalodon was bigger than a school bus, according to the study in the journal Science Advances.

That's about two to three times the size of today's great white shark.

A worker looks into the mouth of a megalodon shark model at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Credit: AP

The giant sharks had a giant stomach volume of almost 10,000 litres and once it had filled up on food, it had the ability to continue to roam the oceans for months at a time."This giant shark was a trans-oceanic super-apex predator,” says Catalina Pimiento, professor at the University of Zurich and senior author of the study.

The megalodons, who lived an estimated 23 million to 2.6 million years ago, were also super speedy swimmers. It was estimated that it could swim at around 1.4 metres per second.The team behind this study used an existing 3D scan of the skull of a great white shark to recreate the megalodon skull, scaling it up based on scans of the predator's teeth.

A 3D scan of the full body of a great white shark was used to add flesh around the skeleton, allowing the researchers to measure the megalodon's surface area, volume and centre of mass.

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Professor John Hutchinson, professor of evolutionary biomechanics and senior author of the study, said: "Computer modelling provides us with an unprecedented ability to use exceptionally well-preserved fossils to reconstruct the entire body of extinct animals, which in turn allows estimations of biological traits from the resulting geometry.

"Models of this nature represent a leap in knowledge of extinct super predators such as megalodon and can then be used as a basis for future reconstruction and further research."

Based on their digital creation, researchers calculated that the megalodon would have weighed around 70 tons, or as much as 10 elephants. Even other high-level predators may have been lunch meat for the megalodon, which could open its jaw to almost 6 feet (2 metres) wide, Pimiento added.