Profile image
Story Views

Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Frightening Megalodon and Great White Shark Relative Described

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 14:00
% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.

A relative of megalodon, the infamous, extinct megatoothed shark, has been identified by an international research team.

The newly described shark, named Megalolamna paradoxodon, lived during the early Miocene epoch, some 20 million years ago. The long extinct creature belongs to a shark group called Lamniformes, which includes the modern day great white and mako sharks.

Terrifying fossilised teeth, measuring up to 4.5 centimetres (1.8 inches) long, were the basis of the discovery. Megalolamna paradoxodon’s teeth have been found in California and North Carolina in the United States, as well as in Peru and Japan.

Substantially smaller than members of the ‘megatoothed’ lineage, Megalolamna paradoxodon was still a formidable creature. At a minimum it was comparable in size to a modern great white shark, around four metres (thirteen feet) long. Living in the same oceans as the megatoothed sharks, Megalolamna paradoxodon likely feasted on small and medium sized fish, grasping its prey with its front teeth and slicing the unfortunate victim with its rear teeth.

Megalolamna paradoxodon is a member of the Otodontidae family of sharks. Kenshu Shimada, a paleobiologist at DePaul University and research associate at the Sternberg Museum in Kansas, who led the study, said in a press release that the newly discovered fossilised shark is a “close cousin” of the megatoothed lineage that includes megalodon.

The prehistoric shark’s name reflects ambiguities over its identification. Although certain dental features point to the otodontid affinity, superficially the teeth look close to those of a modern day salmon shark from the lamna genus – only much bigger. It is for this reason it has the name Megalolamna. Paradoxodon means paradoxical teeth. This is in reference to the fact the shark appears unexpectedly in the geologic record, with an as yet inexplicable 45 million year gap from when Megalolamna split with its apparent closest relative: Otodus.

“It’s quite remarkable that such a large lamniform shark with such a global distribution had evaded recognition until now, especially because there are numerous Miocene localities where fossil shark teeth are well sampled,” said Shimada.

Through their work on Megalolamna paradoxodon the team have also concluded that members of the megatoothed lineage, such as megalodon, should be reclassified from their traditional place in the Carcharocles genus to the Otodus genus.

“The idea that megalodon and its close allies should be placed in Otodus is not new, but our study is the first of its kind that logically demonstrates the taxonomic proposition,” The Odotus lineage without megatoothed sharks would not constitute a full lineage, something scientists call ‘non-monophyletic’. By including megatoothed sharks however, Odotus becomes a monophyletic group, a complete lineage. This lineage is considered the next of kin to Megalolamna paradoxodon.

The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Historical Biology. Shimada, the lead author, worked alongside Richard Chandler, North Carolina State University; Otto Lok Tao Lam, The University of Hong Kong; Takeshi Tanaka, Japan; and David Ward, The Natural History Museum, London; to describe the prehistoric shark.

For more information:

Image courtesy of Kenshu Shimada

The post Frightening Megalodon and Great White Shark Relative Described appeared first on New Historian.


We encourage you to Share our Reports, Analyses, Breaking News and Videos. Simply Click your Favorite Social Media Button and Share.

Report abuse


Your Comments
Question   Razz  Sad   Evil  Exclaim  Smile  Redface  Biggrin  Surprised  Eek   Confused   Cool  LOL   Mad   Twisted  Rolleyes   Wink  Idea  Arrow  Neutral  Cry   Mr. Green

Top Stories
Recent Stories



Top Global

Top Alternative



Email this story
Email this story

If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.