IT was the mega-shark three times the size of a great white, with each of its 270 teeth as big as a hand.
Now, 2.5million years after its extinction, the mighty megalodon is being brought back to life on film.
�Warner Bros./ Supplied by LMK The mighty megalodon is being brought back to life in a new film
The Meg, starring Brit action man Jason Statham, has been described as “Jaws on steroids” ahead of its release on Thursday — and with good reason.
Megalodons were among the most feared ocean predators, with a bite more powerful than a T-rex’s.
They were able to track prey in total darkness by picking up the faintest of electrical signals and, as they attacked, could open their jaw as wide as 10ft.
Some grew up to 59ft — Hollywood’s version is 75ft — and were the biggest fish to roam the seas, including UK waters.
© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC Brit action man Jason Statham stars in the film called The Meg
�Warner Bros./ Supplied by LMK The Meg has been described at ‘Jaws on steroids’
Quick facts about megalodon
Last month a three-million-year-old megalodon tooth fossil was found in Essex.
It is no surprise the megalodon — or “large tooth” — is the subject of Hollywood’s latest deep-sea horror. Emma Bernard, curator of paleobiology at the Natural History Museum in London, said: “I think the fascination with megalodon comes from the size of its teeth.
“If you scale it up to think about the size of the shark — about 49ft on average — I think that really captures peoples’ imagination and the fact they were swimming in the ocean relatively recently.”
If the 60-foot prehistoric shark Megalodon is still out there, this is what the super Jaws could look like
Getty – Contributor This is the size of the mega-shark’s tooth compared to the size of an adult hand
Rex Features The estimated size of megalodon’s mouth fully open
A size comparison for the mega-shark
While dinosaurs died out around 66million years ago, the megalodon’s presence overlapped slightly with early man, Australopithecus.
Most of our knowledge about the megalodon comes from its enormous teeth, which were covered in enamel and easily fossilised.
Backbones have been found, too, in Japan, North America and Europe — one with 150 vertebrae was unearthed in Belgium in the 1860s. But because a shark’s skeleton is mostly cartilage, which does not fossilise easily, these are very rare.
Luckily, there were plenty of teeth to discover.
�Warner Bros./ Supplied by LMK Megalodon was one the most feared ocean’s predators
Many believe this startling image proves the megalodon survived extinction
Emma said: “Sharks are constantly replacing their teeth. They can have between 20,000 and 40,000 in a lifetime. They didn’t have to worry about going to the dentist.
“With that number of teeth you’re more likely to get some preserved compared to one body skeleton.”
With their incredible senses, megalodons hunted whales and dolphins, attacking either their vital organs and letting them bleed out, or disabling them first by biting into a fin or tail.
In the film — in which Jason plays a former US navy diver — a group of scientists discover the extinct shark is not so extinct after all and must stop it in its terrifying tracks.
Some conspiracy theorists believe the megalodon may still be out there — Emma is not convinced.
THE REAL JAWS – THE MEGALODON’S MIGHTY BITE
It’s estimated the megalodon’s jaw would span 2.7 by 3.4 metres wide, easily big enough to swallow two adults side-by-side.
The giant’s terrifying jaws were lined with 276 teeth – measuring up to an incredible seven inches in length.
Studies reconstructing the shark’s bite force suggest it may have been one of the most powerful predators ever to have lived
Humans have a bite force of around 1,317 Newtons (N) while great white sharks have a force of 18,216N.
However, researchers have estimated the megalodon had a bite force of between 108,514 and 182,201N.
They were top-level predators that hunted and ate whales, using their huge teeth and powerful jaws to devour their prey.
Jason Statham takes on a gigantic shark in official trailer for The Meg
She said it is likely that global cooling, which occurred between 3million and 2.5million years ago, caused the extinction of the creature, which lived in warmer waters.
The formation of the ice caps and the loss of its breeding areas in shallow waters also contributed, as did the increased competition for food from sharks more adapted to cooler waters.