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Body dimensions of the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon: a 2D reconstruction

JACK COOPER, Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo, Humberto G. Ferrón, Michael J. Benton

Scientific Reports, Volume: 10, Issue: 1

Swansea University Authors: JACK COOPER, Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Inferring the size of extinct animals is fraught with danger, especially when they were much larger than their modern relatives. Such extrapolations are particularly risky when allometry is present. The extinct giant shark †Otodus megalodon is known almost exclusively from fossilised teeth. Estimate...

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Published in: Scientific Reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2020
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa65088
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Abstract: Inferring the size of extinct animals is fraught with danger, especially when they were much larger than their modern relatives. Such extrapolations are particularly risky when allometry is present. The extinct giant shark †Otodus megalodon is known almost exclusively from fossilised teeth. Estimates of †O. megalodon body size have been made from its teeth, using the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) as the only modern analogue. This can be problematic as the two species likely belong to different families, and the position of the †Otodus lineage within Lamniformes is unclear. Here, we infer †O. megalodon body dimensions based on anatomical measurements of five ecologically and physiologically similar extant lamniforms: Carcharodon carcharias, Isurus oxyrinchus, Isurus paucus, Lamna ditropis and Lamna nasus. We first assessed for allometry in all analogues using linear regressions and geometric morphometric analyses. Finding no evidence of allometry, we made morphological extrapolations to infer body dimensions of †O. megalodon at different sizes. Our results suggest that a 16 m †O. megalodon likely had a head ~ 4.65 m long, a dorsal fin ~ 1.62 m tall and a tail ~ 3.85 m high. Morphometric analyses further suggest that its dorsal and caudal fins were adapted for swift predatory locomotion and long-swimming periods.
Item Description: The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study can be found via the Dryad Digital Repository at: https://datadryad.org/stash/share/cGI08m4rPYWUD6VucWxu0oz3TniVnLKC-5umhvLHgaE.
College: Faculty of Science and Engineering
Funders: C.P. was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant agreement no. 663830. H.G.F. is a recipient of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship (H2020-MSCA-IF-2018-839636). M.J.B. was funded by a NERC Grant NE/I027630/1.
Issue: 1