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.

New Study Reveals True Size of Megalodon

Scientists know great white sharks are living descendants of megalodon sharks, but what we didn’t know was the true scale of the prehistoric animal. That is, 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.

Welcome to Shark Island: Wake Atoll

One of the largest marine conservation areas in the world is just a handful of dots on a map, six islands spread across more than 490,000 square miles of ocean. I’ve visited two of those six islands, though they are worlds apart.

Shark Week NFT Drop: Everything You Need to Know

Shark Week has entered the metaverse.

Everything You Need to Know about the Daily Bite

SHARK WEEK returns July 11 on Discovery and discovery+. This year, take a dive deeper with THE DAILY BITE PODCAST. Marine biologist Luke Tipple interviews the top experts behind SHARK WEEK, getting a behind-the-scenes take on their adventures and research -- from close calls and dangerous deep sea dives to the new discoveries and conservation happening today.

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.

Scientists Trace Back Shark Cannibalism to 300 Million Years Ago

Scientists trace back shark cannibalism to 300 million years ago with evidence found in Canada.

A Guide to Sharks at the American Museum of Natural History

Here’s a handy guide to some of the shark species you can spot in the American Museum of Natural History’s special exhibitions.