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No. 74: Mar-Apr 1991

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Searching For Monster Sharks

Tantalizing reports surface now and then lending crediblility to the claim that there exists a very rare, deepwater shark that rivals the blue whale in size. We are talking 50-foot sharks and larger here; sizes that make the hero (or heroine) of the Jaws series seem minnow-like.

All of these hints come from the Pacific and focus on the possible survival of the shark Carcharodon megalodon, a monster relative of the great white shark. Megalodon is thought to have met its demise a million or so years ago. The word megalodon means "big tooth," and indeed the fossil teeth of this monster approach 6 inches in length. Sharks sporting teeth of this size could be as long as 50 feet. Measurements of the manganese dioxide layers accumulated on megalodon teeth dredged up from the seafloor suggest that it might actually have survived the Ice Ages and terrorized the Pacific as late as 10,000 years ago. Actually, some unfossilized teeth 5 inches long have been brought up by dredges, implying an even more recent existence.

Do scuba divers have anything to fear today? There are rare reports of huge versions of a shark resembling the great white but without the high dorsal fin. So, if the shark of Jaws scared you, think what a 50-foot version with 5-inch, serrated teeth could do to you and your boat. (Shuker, Karl P.N.; Fate, 44:41, March 1991.)

Comment. Admittedly, these recent data are soft, but there's no error about those teeth in the museums. New "living fossils" are being found all the time.

From Science Frontiers #74, MAR-APR 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987