The scientific tourist #32 — Carcharodon Megalodon

This week’s image comes from the San Diego Natural History Museum — it’s a model of an ancient shark called Carcharodon Megalodon:

Carcharodon megalodon

Not that great white sharks are anything to sneeze at, but they are shrimps compared to Megalodon (“Big Tooth” in Greek), which may have grown to more than 56 feet (17 meters) in length, and weighed up to 110 tons (100 metric tons). This is at least 30 times the size of its modern relative, a great white shark — but that makes sense, given that Megalodon hunted whales. In fact, Megalodon is the largest carnivorous fish known to have ever lived.

A recently published study is now adding yet more superlatives to Megalodon’s collection — it turns out that it had incredible bite strength, too. A computer analysis of Megalodon’s jaws shows it could bite down with a force of between 10.8 and 18.2 metric tons. So, for comparison, that’s roughly…

* 6 times the bite force of Tyrannosaurus Rex

* 10 times the bite force of a great white shark

* 30 times the bite force of an African lion

* 200 times the bite force of a human

Luckily for today’s whales (and scuba divers!), this beast died out about 1.5 million years ago…

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