Photo by: Kenshu Shimada

Kenshu Shimada

Say Hello to Megalodon’s Cousin: Megalolamna

Megalodon, the biggest shark to have ever lived has a cousin Megalolamna. It is, however, unclear whether this creature even existed.

Megalodon, which first appeared about 15.9 million years ago, is the biggest shark to have ever lived. Heck, it's the biggest predator in vertebrate history, growing to a size between 40 and 52 feet long.

And now we know Megalodon had a cousin: Megalolamna.

OK, so Megalolamna paradoxodon–as it's formally known–was a LITTLER cousin, growing to roughly 13 feet long, which is equivalent to modern-day great whites.

But its mouth was just as ferocious, boasting front teeth that grasped and back teeth that seized and sliced its diet of medium-sized fish.

The findings, published in the journal Historical Biology, were based on the discovery of five fossilized teeth -- the largest of which measured 1.8 inches in length -- in Japan, Peru, North Carolina and southern California. From those sites, researchers concluded that Megalolamna patrolled shallow, coastal waters in mid-latitudinal zones about 20 million years ago.

But despite the ancient shark's wide-ranging habitat, until 2016 we had no idea this car-sized creature even existed.

"It's quite remarkable that such a large lamniform shark with such a global distribution had evaded recognition until now, especially because there are numerous Miocene localities where fossil shark teeth are well sampled," said paleobiologist Kenshu Shimada, lead author of the study, in a news release.

Here's hoping the megatoothed shark family has a few more relatives still up its sleeve.

Photo by: Kenshu Shimada

Kenshu Shimada

Next Up

Did Great White Sharks Cause the Megalodon’s Extinction?

The megalodon was the biggest shark to have ever lived, at around 18 meters in length - times the size of the largest recorded great white shark. How they went extinct has been a mystery, up until now.

Shark Week: The Podcast – Risks to Humans - How To Deter A Shark

Marine biologist and shark expert Luke Tipple offers his best tips to deter a shark and the important role of sharks in oceans.

Shark Week NFT Drop: Everything You Need to Know

Shark Week has entered the metaverse.

Shark Week: The Podcast – How Sharks Are Built to Hunt

Dive in with marine biologist and shark expert Luke Tipple as he shares amazing facts about sharks' super-hero senses and dispels common shark myths.

Shark Week: The Podcast – How to Survive a Shark Attack

Luke Tipple speaks with former Australian Navy bomb disposal diver, environmentalist & star of Shark Week special Monsters Under the Rig, Paul de Gelder.

Shark Week: The Podcast - Do Scientists Need to Kill Sharks?

Host Luke Tipple welcomes two guests to discuss how researchers can kill sharks in the name of science – and whether they need to at all. The first is Dr. Neil Hammerschlag, shark researcher and founder of Atlantic Shark Expeditions, and an expert on data-gathering in the field. He’s followed by explorer Fred Buyle, a world-record-breaking freediver whose innovative methods of shark tagging are explored. Plus, our researcher Sierra tells us about how a 50-year study changed our understanding of tiger sharks – and much of the work wasn’t even done by scientists.

Shark Week: The Podcast - How Many Sharks Are Yet to Be Discovered?

Luke Tipple is joined by Shark Week host and all-around adventurer Forrest Galante. They discuss his upcoming special Alien Sharks: South Africa, Forrest’s remarkable talent for finding creatures once believed to be extinct, and how many shark species may still be unknown. Then, our researcher Sierra stops by to tell us about the world’s most prehistoric shark.

Shark Week: The Podcast - How To Have A Career in Shark Science

Shark Week’s Luke Tipple tackles the question “How can I work with sharks?” alongside two experts in the field – and their answers are not always the obvious ones. Luke is joined first by Kelly Link, Associate Curator of the Georgia Aquarium who talks about what it’s like to be an aquarist, how it differs from field work, and how to get yourself noticed. The second guest is Dr. Neil Hammerschlag who goes into detail on what it takes to become a prominent scientist, and what other paths you can take if a PhD isn’t for you. And at the end, researcher Sierra stops by to tell us about the world’s smallest shark.

Shark Week: The Podcast - Do You Have the Guts to Be a Shark Handler?

Host Luke Tipple welcomes a pair of divers – Leigh Cobb and Josh Eccles – who have taken their passion for sharks and turned it into a dangerous career. They explore what it takes to swim with sharks for a living, then go into common myths and facts on what to do in the open water – if you ever come face to face with a shark. Plus, our researcher Sierra drops by with a new species of shark discovered in the freezing depths of the ocean.

Shark Week: The Podcast – This Haunted Oil Rig is Home to Dozens of Shark Species

Luke Tipple chats with the shark experts in the Shark Week special, The Haunting of Shark Tower, Kori Burkhardt & Dr. James Sulikowski.