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6-foot megalodon shark babies were cannibals in the womb, study says

January 11, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 50.8%. 1 min read.

Megalodon sharks fed on unhatched eggs in the womb and grew to the size of an adult human before being born.

Megalodons, scientifically known as Otodus megalodon, were huge sharks that grew up to 50 feet in length and roamed the oceans 15 million to 3. 6 million years ago, said study author Kenshu Shimada, professor of paleobiology at DePaul University in Chicago.

The 6. 6-foot measurement is fairly accurate and aligns with other findings at megalodon nurseries in Panama and Spain, said Jack Cooper, a fossil shark researcher and doctoral student at Swansea University's department of biosciences in Wales, United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study.

To find the animal's length at birth, researchers looked at CT scans of a megalodon's vertebrae that was originally found in Belgium in the 1860s.

The specimen was believed to be 46 years old when it died, so Shimada counted the growth bands back to the birth ring and calculated the length of the animal at birth.

"The consequence of the egg-eating behavior is that only a few pups will survive and develop, but each of them can become considerably large in size at birth," Shimada said.

Their large size at birth reduces the chances of the baby megalodons from being eaten by other predators.

It costs female sand tiger sharks a lot of energy to raise such large babies, he says, but similar to the megalodon, this evolutionary strategy reduces the chances of them being eaten after birth.

While this study has revealed much about the birth of a megalodon, the specimen was only 46 years old, which is middle age for this animal.

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