The mystery surrounding the ‘traumatic injury’ to this 65-foot megalodon shark’s split tooth is baffling scientists

THE MYSTERY surrounding an ancient megalodon shark’s deformed tooth may finally be solved.

In a new study, researchers examined a 4-inch tooth belonging to a 65-foot megalodon that has a groove running down the center.

Large megalodon tooth compared to a great white shark tooth


Large megalodon tooth compared to a great white shark toothPhoto credit: Getty

Megalodons are an extinct species of mackerel shark that lived around 23 to 3.6 million years ago.

These prehistoric creatures can measure up to 70 feet – about the size of three long SUVs.

Given their size, all that is certain is that Megalodon’s teeth are also quite large, growing up to 7 inches long.

However, because shark teeth don’t typically suffer trauma, this particular megalodon tooth puzzled a research team at North Carolina State University.

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Hoping to find the cause of the injury, the team compared the megalodon tooth to that of modern sharks.

After looking at hundreds of shark teeth, the researchers found just two examples of similar split-tooth deformities.

The two teeth belonged to another, but much smaller, ancient species of shark, Carcharhinus leucas, which is related to modern-day bull sharks.

After measuring the deformed teeth and conducting CT scans, the team thinks they finally have some answers.

“Based on what we’re seeing in modern-day sharks, the injury was most likely caused by a spinyfish chew down or a nasty sting from a stingray,” said Haviv Avrahami, study co-author and graduate student at NC State University.

“We also know that megalodon had nest sites around Panama and that relatives of modern stingray species also inhabited this area,” said NC State researcher and graduate student Harrison Miller.

“And those spikes can get very thick. So, a tooth injury of this nature could indicate that Megalodon was more of a generalist predator—and that Megalodon in particular was just having a bad day.”

The scientists explained that the team ruled out disease or infection because sharks “appear to be particularly resistant to infection.”

Avrahami noted that if the tooth injury had reached the shark’s jaw, it would likely have caused great pain, perhaps enough to impede its hunt.

Megalodon was one of the largest predators that ever lived – for perspective, the largest sharks in our oceans today, great whites, only grow to 20 feet in length.

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However, this new research shows that just because a predator is big and powerful doesn’t mean it’s immune to all pain.

“When we think of predator-prey encounters, we tend to reserve our sympathy for the prey, but the life of a predator, even a gigantic megatooth shark, was no picnic either,” Lindsay Zanno, director of paleontology at the NC Museum of Natural The Sciences versus ABC11.

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Chris Barrese

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