Megalodon eats sperm whale noses

A new study claims that the megalodon – the largest shark to ever live – ate sperm whales because they were attracted to their huge noses.

The prehistoric predator, up to 65 feet long and weighing around 100 tons, was one of the most ferocious animals as it swam oceans around the world between 23 and 3.6 million years ago.

According to researchers from the University of Zurich, the huge snout of the sperm whale, which makes up a third of its body, was especially attractive to megalodon because it is filled with oily saturated fats.

Their conclusions are based on the analysis of 7-million-year-old fossilized sperm whale skulls from southern Peru.

A number of bite marks indicate that sharks constantly fed on them.

Scary: Megalodon – the biggest shark that ever lived – ate sperm whales because they were attracted to their huge noses, new study claims. An artist’s impression of the attack is shown

According to researchers from the University of Zurich, the huge snout of the sperm whale, which makes up a third of its body, was especially attractive to megalodon because it is filled with oily saturated fats.

According to researchers from the University of Zurich, the huge snout of the sperm whale, which makes up a third of its body, was especially attractive to megalodon because it is filled with oily saturated fats.

How big was Meg?

With a dorsal fin the size of an adult and a total length of up to 65 feet, the megalodon has eclipsed the white eagle, which reaches a maximum length of 15 to 20 feet.

In previous studies, scientists have calculated that the body size of a mega can reach 52 feet.

A person this size would probably have a head about 15 feet long, a dorsal fin 5 feet 4 inches, and a tail 12.6 feet high.

This means that an average adult can stand on the shark’s back and simply look over the top of the dorsal fin.

However new research suggests that the calculations used to estimate the size of the megalodon were incorrect.

Now researchers say the giant shark may have grown up to 20 meters long – the size of a cricket field.

Lead author Aldo Benitez-Palomino, a paleontology student at the University of Zurich, said: “They are concentrated along the nose, mouth and face.

“In sperm whales, these areas contain most of their greatly enlarged nasal organs, which are responsible for the sound production and emission system.

“The main organs of this complex are spermaceti and melon, structures rich in fats and oils, but also highly regulated by facial muscles.

“Most of the bite marks were found on bones that should have been adjacent to these soft tissue structures, such as the jaws, or around the eyes, indicating that sharks were actively targeting this area.”

Sharks that have attacked sperm whales have ranged from megalodon, meaning big-toothed, to to species that still exist today, including mako sharks, sand sharks and the great white shark.

Megalodon even attacked the prehistoric sea monster Leviathan melvillei, named after the author of Moby Dick, scientists say.

Half a dozen skulls have been found in the Pisco Formation in the Ica Desert.

It is famous for its treasure trove of Miocene remains of sharks and rays, bony fish, turtles, saltwater crocodiles, seabirds, whales and seals.

In the oceans, the Miocene was a time of changing circulation patterns, probably due to global cooling.

This covered the period from 23 to 5 million years ago. By its end, almost all modern groups of whales appeared.

Benítez-Palomino said: “Sperm whales are a group characterized by greatly enlarged and oily nasal organs, which they use to produce sound.

“Here we report several fossil sperm whale skulls from the Pisco Formation showing similar shark bite marks.

“They are located in the areas of the skull where these organs were located, indicating that sharks prefer to feed on these nasal organs.”

A series of bite marks on 7-million-year-old sperm whale fossilized skulls from southern Peru indicate that sharks were constantly feeding on them.

A series of bite marks on 7-million-year-old sperm whale fossilized skulls from southern Peru indicate that sharks were constantly feeding on them.

“This feeding pattern has no modern preference and suggests that a wide variety of Miocene sperm whales served as blubber storage for prehistoric sharks.”

During the last 30 years, research conducted in the area has also found water sloths and even walrus dolphins.

Benítez-Palomino said: “This points to a rich and diverse ecosystem seven million years ago.

“The warmer ocean temperatures, combined with a number of protected coastal areas, have greatly benefited marine life.

“Among them, sperm whales and sharks were among the largest and most visible groups around.

“Over the past decade, paleontologists around the world have been interested in the interactions between these two large groups of marine predators.”

Lead author Aldo Benítez-Palomino, student paleontologist at the University of Zurich.

Lead author Aldo Benítez-Palomino, student paleontologist at the University of Zurich.

The researchers hope their study can shed light on the connections between the two.

Benítez-Palomino said: “The overall shape, size and location of bite marks vary greatly, suggesting that sperm whales were preyed upon by more than one species of shark.”

Today, sharks are looking for baleen whale carcasses with a high concentration of fat, such as blubber.

“During the Miocene, baleen whales were small, but sperm whales were the perfect blubber storage because of their greatly enlarged and lipid-rich nasal organs,” Benítez-Palomino added.

Megalodon and Leviathan died out about three million years ago during a period of global cooling, but the reasons for their extinction are still being debated.

New study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

MEGALODON EXPLAINED

Pictured: Megalodon

Pictured: Megalodon

Megalodon, which means “big tooth”, lived between 15.9 and 2.6 million years ago.

O. megalodon is considered one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history, and fossils suggest it grew to 65 feet (19 meters) in length.

The monster is thought to have looked like a stockier version of today’s feared great white shark, weighing up to 100 tons.

Megalodon is known from fossilized vertebrae and teeth that are triangular in shape and nearly eight inches (20 cm) long diagonally.

It took famed fossil hunter Vito “Megalodon” Bertucci almost 20 years to reconstruct a megalodon jaw – the largest ever collected – which measures 11 feet across and nearly 9 feet high.

The colossal mouth of the megalodon created a force of 10.8 to 18.2 tons.

The ancient shark has been described as a super predator because it could swim at high speeds and quickly kill a wide variety of prey such as sea turtles and whales with its strong jaws.