Prehistoric megalodon sharks might have been even bigger than previously thought. The chance discovery was made thanks to high schoolers.

An illustration of a megalodon. Shutterstock

  • A brand new calculation for megalodon size suggests they had been bigger than previously thought.

  • Scientists designed a brand new system after college students on discovered the earlier one was inaccurate.

  • It led to estimates being revised up from 60ft to 65ft, 4 instances that of an important white shark.

A high-school journey prompted a scientific discovery when college students discovered {that a} long-standing calculation to decide the dimensions of megalodons based mostly on their enamel was not exact sufficient.

The discovering prompted scientists to develop a brand new equation, which extends the common measurement of the prehistoric beasts to about 65 ft, an additional 10% or so on the prior estimated size of 50ft to 60ft.

That would put a megalodon at round 4 instances the dimensions of an important white shark, which develop to round 15ft.

This new estimate was published on June 7 within the peer-reviewed journal Palaeontologia Electronica.

The new technique is healthier than the earlier one, “which seems to have a number of problems,” Dr. Catalina Pimiento, a megalodon skilled from the University of Swansea who wasn’t concerned within the examine, informed Insider.

Megalodon

A calculation “blindly accepted” since 2002

Megalodon sharks lived about from about 23 million years in the past to round 3.6 million years in the past.

Like different sharks, their skeletons had been primarily made up of cartilage, so scientists get comparatively little bodily proof of their our bodies. What is left are enamel and some vertebrae, from which they’ll extrapolate different traits.

Since 2002, a calculation based mostly on the peak of megalodon’s enamel was generally used to decide their size.

But a subject journey of high college college students from California to the Florida Museum of Natural History introduced down that equation.

The college students had been informed to apply the calculation to replicas of a set of enamel of a single megalodon acquired by the museum.

Using the calculation, they got here up with wildly completely different estimates for the size of the identical shark: from about 40 to 148 toes.

“I was really surprised,” then-PhD scholar Victor Perez, who led the examine and is now an assistant curator of paleontology on the Calvert Marine Museum in Maryland said in a press release accompanying the study. “I think a lot of people had seen that study and blindly accepted the equations.”

megalodon tooth

A brand new equation based mostly on the width of the enamel

Working with fellow researcher Ronny Maik Leder, Perez developed a brand new calculation for the shark’s size. This time, they used the width of the enamel to decide the dimensions of the animal’s jaw.

“I was quite surprised that indeed no one had thought of this before,” Leder, now director of the Natural History Museum in Leipzig, Germany, mentioned in a press launch.

The crew’s technique have a variety of error, about 10 toes when utilized to the biggest people, Perez mentioned.

Nevertheless, it exhibits that megalodon may attain bigger sizes than previously thought, Pimiento mentioned.

The new technique has limitations, she mentioned, because it nonetheless depends on understanding the place the enamel go within the jaw, which could lead on to errors.

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