Given how big a megalodon is, it might not be shocking at all to find that a baby megalodon could grow up to six feet inside its womb. Measurements taken from fossils show that even at birth, the size of these gigantic leviathan predecessors of today's sharks could be a result of in-womb cannibalism that until today is present in some modern sharks.
Jack Cooper, a shark researcher at Swansea University in Britain said that megalodons were so big that they can do and eat whatever they want during their time. Their gigantic size in their mother's womb could be attributed to cannibalism, The New York Times reported.
These megalodon babies represent the largest babies in the shark species, according to vertebrate paleontologist Kenshu Shimada from DePaul University in Chicago. He leads the study which describes a six-foot-long baby megalodon, published in the journal Historical Biology.
Six-Foot Baby Megalodon
Researchers examining the fossils of a megalodon shark who died at the age of 46 think it had been roughly middle-aged, given its life expectancy of 88 to 100 years old. They also calculated back the size of the megalodon when it was still a baby and found that it could have been six and a half feet long when it was born.
Cooper, who was not part of the study, commented that the size could mean the baby megalodon was a really big baby. Dr. Shimada added that to grow to this size, the baby megalodons may have nibbled at each other when they were still inside their mother's womb as most of them hatched and begins to devour unhatched siblings that help them grow.
"It's this large, high-calorie, nutritious meal that can help these embryos grow bigger and faster," said Allison Bronson, who studies the evolution of fish at Humboldt State University in Arcata, in California.
According to Olt News, these mini megalodons might have emerged ready to become a predator even as a baby with a ravenous appetite and warm blood to help them catch their prey.
Amazing Megalo-moms Birthing Large Babies
Cooper noted that some of the calculations used in the study are based on the data in the 1990s, the time when researchers most rely on great white sharks to estimate the anatomy of a megalodon. Comparisons between the two species have resulted in underestimations in some specific body parts, Cooper said.
The study has provided important data on the poorly understood megalodon. But the researchers also said that it is hard to say that the study of the fossil could be a representative for all megalodon species as there is a lot of variation in fishes.
It is amazing how megalo-moms were able to carry and birth a six-foot pup. But while the baby is big, these megalo-moms were also big enough to carry gigantic pups. At maximum size, they could grow up to 50 feet, which is plenty of space to house even basketball player-size baby megalodons.
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