From the Farside –A Paleobiologist Views “The Meg,” New Movie About the Terrifying Prehistoric 18-Meter Megalodon

“A megalodon mouth is so big that you could swim into it without touching any of the teeth. It literally could swallow a small car without having to chomp down on it. And the teeth would be about 7 inches or 17 centimeters tall, and it would have several rows in its mouth at once, so as it lost or broke teeth, it could easily replace them.”

In the new action movie The Meg, Jason Statham battles an 18-meter-long megalodon, a beast of a shark that lived 20 million years ago. The film posits that a few members of the species are still alive, free to terrorize cargo ships, beachgoers, and even tiny dogs off the coast of China.

 

 

If you’re not expecting a lot of scientific accuracy from a movie like this, you won’t be disappointed. But, after a screening, Frankie Schembri at Science sat down with Hans Sues, curator of vertebrate paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and an expert on all creatures prehistoric, to see whether the film got anything right.

Sues has assisted in the discovery of several new species of dinosaurs and even has one named after him—the dome-skulled pachycephalosaur Hanssuesia sternbergi. He’s now supervising the building of a 15-meter megalodon model for a new space in the museum, which is undergoing renovations.

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