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The extinct shark Otodus megalodon was a transoceanic superpredator: Inferences from 3D modeling

Jack A. Cooper Orcid Logo, John R. Hutchinson Orcid Logo, David C. Bernvi, Geremy Cliff Orcid Logo, Rory Wilson Orcid Logo, Matt L. Dicken, Jan Menzel, Stephen Wroe Orcid Logo, Jeanette Pirlo Orcid Logo, Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo

Science Advances, Volume: 8, Issue: 33

Swansea University Authors: Rory Wilson Orcid Logo, Catalina Pimiento Orcid Logo

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DOI (Published version): 10.1126/sciadv.abm9424

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 well-preserved fossil to create the first three-dimensional model of the body of this giant...

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Published in: Science Advances
ISSN: 2375-2548
Published: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) 2022
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa60964
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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 well-preserved fossil to create the first three-dimensional 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. 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. Together, our results suggest that O. megalodon played an important ecological role as a transoceanic superpredator. Hence, its extinction likely had large impacts on global nutrient transfer and trophic food webs.
College: College of Science
Funders: This research was funded by a PRIMA grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (no. 185798), a European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 663830), and an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation fellowship to C.P.; an ERC Horizon 2020 Advanced Investigator Grant (no. 695517) to J.R.H.; and a PhD studentship from the Fisheries Society of the British Isles to J.A.C.
Issue: 33