We are several to have seen the whole show. A bit hollywoodish but scientifically serious, Elosha and I actually discussed with the paleontologist advising the show, one of the world authorities about fossils sharks.
I only regret that this particular case of a predatory attack of a C. megalodon on a Miocene whale is not destinated to be described in a publication.
^That is among the most laughable pages I've ever read, using intelligence and tooth lenght as key advantages, not even taking into account jaw structure and function, and making Livyatan a sluggish behemoth in exchange.
I am super busy at work right now, but I started a post with my opinion on the conflict. Here's what I've got so far, although it is a work in progress and I will add to this significantly as soon as I have the time:
This is a very interesting (and might I say epic) conflict that probably really happened from time to time in the Miocene. There are many factors which come in play, most of which are speculative to a degree, but for which we can make some fairly reasonable inferences.
First, as Grey has pointed out, it may be that Megalodon had a significantly larger bite in terms of volume than Livyatan. This seems to be case when viewing the jaw constructions. Megalodon has a far wider and higher "circular-shaped" bite, while Livyatan's bite is long and relatively narrow. It's still an enormous bite, but probably quite a bit smaller than a full grown Megalodon.
However, I offer this caveat. It may very well be that a large great white has a larger bite volume than an orca. Just comparing orca skulls to large great white shark jaws leads me believe that an orca's bite, while powerful, is not extremely voluminous compared to a large great white. Indeed, if all one had to compare the two animals was a large great white shark jaws vs. an orca skull, one might conclude that the shark was the larger animal. Yet we know that is not the case and that orcas in fact substantially outsize even the largest great white. Moreover, we know primarily because of that size difference, orcas generally will dominate great whites.
Now I do not make that statement to suggest that Livyatan was necessarily larger than Megalodon - in fact I think it more likely that the shark was larger. However, just as with orcas v. great whites, we can't simply assume that the larger biter between Megalodon and Livyatan is declared the automatic winner. Bite volume is an important factor, but it is one of many.
Next, is the question of which animal had the deadlier predatory bite. I would divide this into three general categories, (1) bite force (2) bite damage, and (3) bite volume. I believe Megalodon probably holds the advantage in at least two of these areas, but is probably very close overall. First, and easiest to determine is bite volume. As already explained above, it is likely that Megalodon had a significantly larger bite, which means in theory it could remove more flesh and/or attack a larger surface area on the body of prey/competitor than Livyatan could. This is a significant advantage since it means that Megalodon likely could remove more flesh and cause more internal injuries in a single attack than Livyatan could.
Bite volume is closely related to bite damage, but damage includes not just the volume but how the teeth are doing their damage. Megalodon's teeth are broad, thick, dagger-edged and serrated. Livyatan's teeth are massive, conical, smooth, and sharply pointed. Megalodon's teeth are perfect for slicing through flesh and even bone and also are massive and thick enough to permit some crushing ability. Livyatan's teeth are designed for holding and crushing, but they clearly also have the ability to pierce and slice flesh and bone. Both sets of teeth are pinnacles in predatory apparatus, but for the overall bite volume and ability to saw off massive amounts of flesh quickly, I give Megalodon's serrated teeth the edge in "deadliness."
As for bite force, it is unknown for each of these animals although Megalodon's bite force has been estimated at 20 tons or more for its maximum proposed size. Given the thick skull structure of Livyatan, its tooth structure, and the room for massive mandible muscles, we can assume that Livyatan's bite force was also very great. We have no known orca or other cetacean bite force to use as an analogue, but it is not an unreasonable assumption to think that it may have had an even greater bite force than Megalodon. So as far as bite goes, I believe Megalodon probably had the overall most deadly bite, but both animals' bites were incredibly formidable. We should also include lateral shaking as helping Megalodon generate perhaps even a greater bite force, since a wide variety of sharks exhibit this behavior. However, orcas have also been observed to employ lateral shaking in their attacks on whales, and Livyatan may have incorporated such behavior as well. It is a logical feeding/attack behavior for a superpredatory marine animal. So we cannot exclude Livyatan from the extra bite force generated from lateral shaking.
But beyond the respective weaponry, there are many other biological and behavioral factors which must be considered. Of course, sheer size is a factor. The Livyatan holotype is estimated at 13.5 to 17.5 meters. A large bull sperm whale may weigh 50-60 tons, so this is probably a good rough estimate for Livyatan at the upper size range. A 13 meter Livyatan may have "only" weighed around 30 tons.
Megalodon has been estimated at 50 to over 100 tons. It probably weighted somewhere between those numbers but IÂ’d be surprised if it reached maximum hypothetical weight. Determining size based on tooth analysis warrants its own thread, but it is safe to say that Megalodon adults may have ranged from 15 meters to over 20 meters. As I've said many times before, there is unpublished evidence that, when it comes out, may support the idea of Megalodon reaching the upper length limit. However, I will not rely on that until it is officially published. In general, I think the size range of Megalodon is a bit larger than Livyatan's, although I know some members like coherentsheaf have made some good points in the past taking issue with how Megalodon's size is currently extrapolated.
There are other factors which must come into play. Which animal was faster? Which animal was more maneuverable and which had more stamina? Here, I think there are some plausible arguments in favor of Livyatan. Both these animals were behemoths. Yet we see that large whales like sperm whale (closest analogue to Livyatan) can be relatively fast, obtaining top speeds of over 18 mph (30 kph). See marinebio.org/species.asp?id=190. One could reasonably assume that Livyatan, as a presumably more active and formidable predator than the suction feeding sperm whale, would be able to attain similar or even faster speeds. Moreover, sperm whales, like most cetaceans are known to be able to maintain high speeds for a long period of time, suggesting relatively high endurance.
Megalodon's top speed is even more mysterious. Using the modern day analogue (but much smaller) great white, adults can probably reach or exceed 25 mph in predatory attacks. Some researchers even think it may be able to obtain 35 mph in bursts. See, e.g, ocean.si.edu/great-white-shark;www.sharkinformation.org/great-white-shark/. Moreover great whites are known to have great endurance in some respects. They sometimes pull fishing boats for hours and many miles out to sea.
However, using a great white as an analogue for these behaviors is problematic. Although most researchers believe Megalodon belongs with the great white in the lamnid family, some researchers such as Mike Ward postulate that Megalodon may have been more closely related to sand tiger shark family (although in private communications he admits this is more a hunch and has less Â“scientific basisÂ” than the lamnid proponents like Drs. Gottfried and Kent).
However, I'm not certain than the jaws and skull of the largest orcas are smaller than the great white jaws in the same way of Livyatan and megalodon.
And the fact that the orca skull and body shape are definitely differently proportioned than in sperm whales.
I don't think this is a good analogy, it brings more issues than the analogy of meg with the white shark, already problematic.
Regarding Livyatan's weight, that's the same thing. 50-60 tons are body mass of really large sperm whales. The biggest weighed in one piece was a bit more than 18 m and weighed 60 tons. I've seen comparisons of sperm whales and Livyatan skull from the Lima exhibit and somehow, they were also compared at the scale. This pic gives a clear impression that the sperm whale is the larger animal around.
Of course, I remain open to new possibility, but to date I think the possibilities of Livyatan being bigger than both the largest megalodon and the largest sperm whales even more limited than this.
But I m going to do some comparisons great white/orcas feeding apparatus.
I would like to point out that no modern age shark offers adequate clue about strength and stamina of any ancient megatoothed shark.
For strength: Whale shark is the closest analogue and it can become very strong at 10 m and greater lengths.
For stamina: Muscle structures alone can make lot of difference at such gigantic sizes; keeping in mind that muscle structures in megatoothed sharks were suitable for active lifestyle in contrast to those of the whale shark.
Megatoothed sharks are anatomically different then even great white shark (the closest living analogue for them). This is a lengthy subject to delve in to but I will sum-up the situation in this manner; megatoothed sharks packed much of the great white shark anatomical features in addition to characteristics absent in the latter shark. Therefore, we end-up with a partial picture of biological characteristics of the megatoothed sharks.
Megatoothed sharks were true "top of the food chain" machines (within the shark family); built to tackle gigantic prey; may have been capable of taking such prey head-on and make a kill. Unfortunate truth is that we would never be able to know the full extent of capabilities of the ancient megatoothed sharks; we are left with insignificant remains to work with.
Also, Sand Tiger analogy is questionable. Their are some very decent explanations available that make it clear why this analogy is not suitable for megatoothed sharks.
Dave Ward seems only suggest by guess a Sand Tiger shark shape like recalled by Elosha, and Life indeed hinted that Bretton Kent had debunked this suggestion.
Regarding Livyatan, here's the pic why I think it is not likely as large as a sperm whale can get.
Not only the spermaceti chamber is much smaller, though still important, and this is greatly what makes the mass of a sperm whale's head, but the flesh structure seems to indicate an animal not as large, but simply comparable, in an approaching range.
Rodolfo Salas once talked on an interview about a weight of 30 tons. This is pure guess of course, and cannot be interpreted as a solid support but looking at this picture, I wonder if it makes sense after all.
Life, I agree the sand tiger shark theory is likely incorrect. I was using it simply to show that basic Megalodon biology is mysterious and even a "simple" question as to which order/family it belongs is still being debated.
Grey, you may be right on the orca jaws v GWS jaw comparison. It just struck me in looking at some orca skulls/jaws, how relatively "small" they are for such a massive, robust animal.
Will respond more on these points in the next few days...
Yes, seemingly macropredators delphinids have a particular morphology, sperm whales being more big-headed.
My simple view is that Livyatan's skull model on the model above seems to depict the head of an animal not quite as big as a sperm whale.
In the background on the right of this image, you can see another model pic of Livyatan skull, compared to an orca and a diver. Here too, the proportions does not fit, in my opinion, an animal the mass of a large male sperm whale.
On this pic of the official Lima exhibit, the explanations give to Livyatan a weight of 25 tons :
By comparison, the equivalent megalodon exhibit by the FMNH stated megalodon at 77 short tons (70 metric tons)...
Once again, I have no absolute certainty, Livyatan remains a paper tiger in many ways. My opinion still can change with time and new evidences confirming (or not) this.
For now, I doubt it. The comparisons of the respective jaws above seems to demonstrate a pretty big difference in terms of sheer size/potency. At a first look I would not even place both in the same league, although of course, I'd like to see new material highlighting all of this.
I had asked to Mike Siversson the doubts about the physeteroids having disappeared because of C. megalodon dominance, to what he responded:
"In any case we don't have any data to suggest that the rise and fall of various physeteroids had any impact on the megalodon population. By the time megalodon went extinct the once mighty physeteroids were scooping up slimy squid on the ocean floor."
Thanks for that information Grey. If Livyatan reached 17.5 meters, the upper end of the proposed length range, I'd have a hard time believing it to be only 25-30 tons. But even at that range, it have been a somewhat lighter animal than an 18-20 meter large bull sperm whale. The proposed skull structure does seem to show a somewhat smaller head than the sperm whale, and we know that a significant proportion of a sperm whale's overall weight is its massive head structure with the large spermaceti cavity. Livyatan appears to have a robust head, but significantly smaller than a sperm whale's and with less room for a spermaceti structure. However it does have much larger mandibular muscles than the sperm whale, which only makes sense for a predator of large prey. I still think a rough range of 30-50 tons is plausible for the low and high length 13.5 to 17.5 meter estimates for the holotype.
Sperm whales are significantly more longirostrine. I suppose the reason why the supplementary data contained a regression based on skull width, not lenght. I doubt the lenght of a sperm whale skull is a suitable analogy for an animal with a much more compressed skull, proportioned similar to raptorial delphinids like O. orca, not to today's suction-feeding physeteroids.
There was an interesting re-analysis of mentioned regression by coherentsheaf on carnivora. maybe he could repost it, as I cannot seem to find it any more.
Still, the body plan analogy of physeteroids is different than in delphinids. More than the skull proportions, we discuss the body proportions and weight.
Regarding the weight, the vast spermaceti organ has a significant impact on the sperm whale skull's total weight. Overall, the sperm whale head seems heavier than Livyatan's head and given the comparison from Lima, I don't see a clue yet that Livyatan's remaining body was as heavy and even less likely heavier than Physeter. At least for now.
I remember coherentsheaf interesting post, I'd appreciate to see it again.
dinosauria101: I guess I'm learning something about palaeodocumentary-reviewing that only writing the reviews can teach you. The amount of stuff one can notice on a review-intended rewatch is pretty amazing.
Sept 25, 2023 6:54:42 GMT 5
lionclaws: Large gape enables predation on large animals, but it does not preclude predation on smaller ones. Especially when the animal has two sets of lethal tools that cannot be used simultaneously, as carcharodontosaurs do.
Sept 24, 2023 2:35:14 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Actually, I'm sure carnosaurs in general could replicate the bone processing feats Allosaurus did, but yeah, you get the point.
Sept 24, 2023 2:01:40 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Carcharodontosaurids seem to have been bigger-headed and much shorter-armed, I feel like they deviated more from the original theropod body plan/mode of predation.
Sept 24, 2023 1:43:49 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: Supercommunist I'm going to say allosaurids. Slicing teeth that could still process bone, moderately large arms with huge claws, and probably weren't limited to just sauropods (we know Allosaurus hunted stegosaurs too).
Sept 24, 2023 1:42:36 GMT 5
Supercommunist: lionclaws, yeah I suppose Carcharodontosaurids do tend to have similar builds which suggest it was verastile body plan but I always thought their huge jaw gape was specialized for killing much larger animals.
Sept 24, 2023 1:00:09 GMT 5
Supercommunist: By carnosas I meant, Carcharodontosaurids but that word took up too muchn space, lol.
Sept 24, 2023 0:56:05 GMT 5
dinosauria101: I'll dedicate a shout or two to that 24+ year old crooked spine tumor mouth pictus catfish that recently had to be put down. RIP.
Sept 24, 2023 0:46:29 GMT 5
dinosauria101: I don't mean to interrupt anything but....
Sept 24, 2023 0:45:47 GMT 5
lionclaws: Actually, I think that the carcharodontosaurs ran the whole gamut of available prey. Anything they can Tower over could be dispatched with the powerful claws, and anything too large for that can be exsanguinated.
Sept 24, 2023 0:44:54 GMT 5
Supercommunist: You know I never thought about it before, but which of the giant theropods do you think is the most "generalist" predator? The really famous ones seem to be specialists. Trex preyed on well-armed prey, carnosaurs were saurpod killers, spino ate fisj, ect.
Sept 24, 2023 0:38:49 GMT 5
Infinity Blade: I doubt I’ll be able to contribute much, but aye
Sept 24, 2023 0:03:47 GMT 5
lionclaws: If you think I should start a Google Sheets document for all of us to contribute to, where we can all put measurements of theropod femoral, say "aye."
Sept 23, 2023 23:28:17 GMT 5