Ancient Sharks’ Cannibalistic Behavior May Have Helped Them Become Giants

KEY POINTS

  • Megalodons grew to be up to 50 feet in length
  • The prehistoric sharks were the biggest among the carnivorous or non-planktivorous shark species
  • Researchers say a unique behavior called intrauterine cannibalism may have helped megalodons grow very large

The ancient megalodon sharks’ predatory behavior inside the womb might have helped them achieve their gigantic size, a new study shows. The shark species grew to be up to 50 feet in length before going extinct about 3.6 million years ago.

In a study published in the journal Historical Biology, a team of researchers explained that most sharks give birth through a method known as ovoviviparity, where the embryos develop inside eggs that remain inside the mother’s body until they are ready to be hatched. In some aggressive shark types like lamniform, the early-hatched embryos often eat the unhatched eggs, a behavior called intrauterine cannibalism, the researchers noted. Megalodons belong

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