Unlike Jason Statham’s experience, Megaladon’s shark teeth were mostly for show (Photo: Warner Bros.)
According to new research, the legendary 7-inch teeth of the prehistoric basking shark were meant for show…. not for strength.
The Megalodon’s legendary, blade-like fangs have been called the best cutting tool developed in relation to its 60-foot-long, 100-ton body.
Their evolution has been debated for decades – and until now it was assumed that it was an adaptation to new eating habits.
But even though they were more than twice the size of the whites, they were not as strong.
The University of Bristol team has used computer models for the first time to show how they work.
Antonio Ballel, doctoral student at the School of Earth Sciences: We used engineering techniques to digitally simulate how different tooth shapes handle biting forces and loads resulting from lateral head movements.
This method, known as finite element analysis, has been used in the past to gain insight into the stability of various biological structures under the influence of certain forces.
We expected the teeth of the megalodon to be more resistant to the forces than those of its older and younger parents.
Surprisingly, when we took the size of the teeth out of the simulation, we got the opposite pattern.
The teeth of the megalodon are relatively weaker than the more graceful teeth of other megatouch sharks.
Comparison of the teeth of the megalodon shark with those of the current common white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). (Credits: Getty Images)
Megalodon, meaning big tooth, is the largest shark that ever lived. His teeth are as big as a man’s – wide and triangular like no other.
It was assumed that the difference was due to a change in diet. Their older parents probably used their teeth to pierce small and fast prey.
Megalodon probably used them to tear large pieces of meat from marine mammals or to chop up these prey with powerful side blows to the head.
They’ve been found all over the world. Shark skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone, which is poorly preserved. Only a few survived.
The head of the megalodon, which looked like a white giant, was the size of a car. It was the ultimate predator of the oceans – a feast for whales and great white sharks.
The 2018 Hollywood blockbuster, The Meg, starring British action hero Jason Statham, is based on a monster.
According to Dr. Umberto Ferron, co-author of the study: Our results seem to contradict traditional functional interpretations of the teeth of this group of basking sharks.
We think that other biological processes may be responsible for the evolutionary change in their teeth.
For example, the changes in tooth shape that occurred between older and smaller species and later and larger forms such as Megalodon are very similar to those observed during the growth of Megalodon.
Artistic megalodon jaw with cast teeth (Credits: Bonhams / SWNS)
In other words, young megalodons have teeth similar to those of old megalodon sharks.
Therefore, we believe that not the specialization in foraging, but the acquisition of its enormous body size was responsible for the evolution of Megalodon’s special teeth.
The findings, published in Scientific Reports, follow a US study that found she reached this size by eating her siblings – in utero.
Megalodon lived between 20 million and 3.6 million years ago. When he was born, he was already six feet tall – a dwarf to most people.
It became extinct after the cooling of the planet led to the loss of tropical waters, its favorite habitat.
MORE: According to science, small megalodon sharks were larger than an adult.
MORE: The true size of the prehistoric megalodon shark has finally been discovered.
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