T. rex, stay out of the water: the ancient giant shark megalodon had a bite far more powerful than yours!
Researchers at the University of New South Wales used “sophisticated computational techniques,” reports LiveScience, to generate 3-D models and analyze what the megalodon bite may have been like. The shark is thought to have grown to more than 50 feet (15m) long and may have weighed over 100 tons, far larger than the infamous great white shark.
The source for the researchers’ work was a set of X-rays of a male great white shark. Based on the X-rays, the scientists constructed a computer model that recreates the skull, jaws, and muscles of the shark “as nearly 2 million tiny connected parts.” Team member Stephen Wroe, a biomechanist and paleontologist at the University of New South Wales, explained, “It takes a lot of computing power to analyze something as relatively simple as a set of jaws, since you're dealing with all sorts of complex shapes in biology.”
Based on existing evidence and the computer models, the team concluded that the largest great white sharks have a bite force of up to 2 tons—more than 3 times as strong a bite as an African lion, and more than 20 times stronger than the human bite. Then the team turned to megalodon, estimating that its bite was 6 to 10 times stronger than the great white’s—that is, up to 200 times stronger than a human bite and several times stronger than the T. rex’s may have been!
Scientists believe megalodon used those jaws to first chomp off the tails and flippers of large whales, then devour the rest. By attacking with a “single horrendously traumatizing bite,” Wroe said, megalodon could then escape reprisals and wait for its victim to bleed to death.
Now comes the twist—however fearsome the megalodon’s bite may have been, the force of its bite was actually weaker than a cat or a dog’s relative to its weight! Its overwhelming strength—and likely effectiveness—was mostly due to its large size and sharp teeth. Of course, thinking of the megalodon’s “weak” pound-for-pound bite might be of little comfort if one were chasing after you!
As with snake fangs in item #2, many of us may wonder why God would have created a monster shark with such a killer bite. The answer, starting with Scripture (Genesis 3), is that God either didn’t create the original shark kind(s) with such a menacing mouth (i.e., it was created but nascent, or created later), or the original shark kind(s) used their bites for herbivorous purposes. Millennia after the Fall, and after the introduction of carnivory, with natural selection perhaps favoring some of the more savage animals in that time, it’s no surprise that we have difficulty imagining friendly sharks or lions lying down with lambs.
For more on this topic, be sure to read the excellent overview in the New Answers Book, How Did Defense/Attack Structures Come About?
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