Location: Oued Zem, Morocco
Weight: 1 Pound 3.5 Ounces
Dimensions: 6 Inches Long, 4.1 Inches Wide, 2 Inches Thick (Matrix)
Vertebrae Dimensions: 1.5 Inches
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54 million years old.
Size: Approximately 9 meters long
Known locations: Worldwide
Time period: Eocene
Fossil representation: Teeth and vertebral centra.
Since the skeletons of sharks are composed of biodegradable cartilage rather than longer-lasting bone, often times the only fossil evidence of prehistoric species consists of teeth and Veratbae (sharks grow and shed thousands of teeth during their lifetimes, which is why they're so abundant in the fossil record). That's the case with the early Cenozoic Otodus, whose huge (three or four inches long), sharp, triangular teeth point to a full-grown adult size of up to 30 feet, though we know frustratingly little else about this prehistoric shark, other than that it likely fed on prehistoric whales, other, smaller sharks, and the abundant prehistoric fish that lived in the world's oceans 50 million years ago.
Its fossilized teeth aside, Ototodus' greatest claim to fame is that it seems to have been directly ancestral to Megalodon, the 50-foot-long, 50-ton predatory behemoth that ruled the world's oceans right until the cusp of the modern era. (This is not to diminish Otodus' own place in the record books; this prehistoric shark was at least one and one-half times as big as the biggest Great White Sharks alive today.) Paleontologists have established this evolutionary link by examining the similarities between these two sharks' teeth; specifically, the teeth of Otodus show early hints of the flesh-ripping serrations that would later characterize the teeth of Megalodon.