These photographs of six members of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Paleontology staff sitting inside the massive jaws of a Carcharocles megalodon are the stuff of nightmares—and, of course, just the thing for Shark Week.
Yet, as Brian Switek writes on ScienceBlogs, they’re the result of a miscalculation. “[T]he famous jaws were reconstructed by assuming that the teeth of the extinct shark would have had the same proportions to the jaw as in the living great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), yielding a maw that would have fit a shark 100 feet long or more.”
What a relief, right? Well, “just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water,” as the Jaws 2 tagline put it, you should know that it’s now estimated that the megalodon measured at least 60 feet, so possibly four members of the AMNH staff would have still comfortably fit in its jaws.
Thankfully, the megalodon is believed to have become extinct more than 2 million years ago. That’s why we’re including these other images from the AMNH Research Library’s Photo Archive featuring specimens you’re more likely to run into today. Happy swimming!