Skip to main content
Dryad logo

The extinct shark Otodus megalodon was a transoceanic super-predator: Inferences from 3D modelling

Citation

Cooper, Jack et al. (2022), The extinct shark Otodus megalodon was a transoceanic super-predator: Inferences from 3D modelling, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7h44j0zvw

Abstract

Although shark teeth are abundant in the fossil record, their bodies are rarely preserved. Thus, our understanding of the anatomy of the extinct Otodus megalodon remains rudimentary. We used an exceptionally preserved fossil to create the first 3D model of the body of this giant shark and used it to infer its movement and feeding ecology. We estimate that an adult O. megalodon could cruise at faster absolute speeds than any shark species today, and fully consume prey the size of modern apex predators (e.g., the killer whale). A dietary preference for large prey potentially enabled O. megalodon to minimize competition and provided a constant source of energy to fuel prolonged migrations without further feeding. When taken together, our results suggest that O. megalodon played a singular ecological role as a transoceanic super-predator. As such, its extinction likely had large impacts on global nutrient transfer and trophic food webs.

Methods

The tutorial was recorded while the model was being made in Blender. Collection of Data S1-S5 is described in the README file.

Funding

Swiss National Science Foundation, Award: 185798

European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme, Award: 663830

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

ERC Horizon 2020, Award: 695517

Fisheries Society of the British Isles