Author: Mark Renz
Illustrator: Walter Hunt, Dan Varner, Todd Marshall, Rob Sula, Marisa Renz, Kyle Kirby
Signed copies available.
How does a shark grow 40 to 60 feet in length? Why would it need to? What sharks were its ancestors? What could possibly bring about its extinction? Or is this beast still out there somewhere in the vastness of our deepest seas, feeding on whales and giant squids, but leaving no trace of its activities?
* 48 international sites where you can search for Meg teeth
* The controversial rise and fall of Meg
* Color Identification section for Meg and her ancestors
* Terror index: Was Meg the baddest of the bad?
* Rumored Meg sightings
* 390 illustrations and photos
From the Forewords and Introductions:
"...The ultimate terror of the waters, sixty feet long, and just as predaceous in its behavior as the modern great white shark, was good old C. megalodon. Now, Mark Renz, who writes so well about Florida fossils, has given it its proper due. I hope you, the reader, enjoy this account as much as I have."
--S. David Webb, Distinguished Research Curator of Fossil Vertebrates, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
"...It is unusually refreshing to have a combination of total fantasy and scientific accuracy. Mark Renz has a compulsive style of writing and has sought some of the most respected authorities available, to ensure this book is both up to date and scientifically credible."
--David J. Ward, Fossil shark researcher and co-author of "Fossils"
"...In this beautifully illustrated book, Mark Renz has faithfully captured the sense of awe and discovery that accompanies finding and studying megalodon fossils. More importantly, he has been able to condense the arcane discussions of scientists to a manageable level of complexity, while maintaining a sense of wonder at the richness and complexity of the world around us."
Bretton W. Kent, Author of "Fossil Sharks of the Chesapeake Bay Region", and faculty member, College of Life Sciences at the University of Maryland at College Park
"Mark Renz is back with "Supershark." And does he have some stories to tell!"
--Edward Morris, reviewer for BookPage and ForeWord
"Forget T-rex and the rest of his dino-pals. If you want to read about the number one monster of all time, read this book."
--Steve Alten, novelist, "Meg" and "The Trench"
The book is finally published! 170 pages. Includes close to 400 images, both color and black & white. Price is $24.95, plus 3.75 shipping (add 1.50 tax for Florida residents).
For credit card orders, call 239-368-3252, or send a check or money order to Fossil Expeditions, 213 Lincoln Avenue, Lehigh Acres, FL 33972. For questions, send e-mail to (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Chapter 1. Close Encounters of the Ancient Kind
Illustration by Marisa Renz.
...Lost in group courtship, the love-struck dugongs were unaware that another large animal was also moving erratically across the bay, slowly though without creating any underwater turbulence. As if anticipating the dugongs' projected path, the huge mass veered to one side of the unsuspecting herd.
Within minutes, the enormous shape -- a 60-foot long pregnant C. megalodon shark -- began to give birth. Her pups emerged, hungry and ready for their first meal. Before the dugongs knew what was happening, they were flanked by menacing shark pups who at birth were already 7-10 feet long, nearly the same size as the dugongs. In spite of 10-inch long tusks and heavier body weight, the male dugongs were no match for the sleek and determined pups that were now stalking them. They had no defense for the 46 serrated front-row teeth, many of which protruded over an inch from the sharks' menacing jaws. In files packed tightly behind the front row, were another 200 deadly blades ready to flip forward as needed.
Realizing they were about to become a first meal for these ravenous pups, the ones who lost out on their bid for love darted in every direction, trying to flee. But it was too late...
Chapter 2. Evolution Happens
Photo by David Lann.
...It is not always easy to remove ourselves from the trappings of the present, to peel back the layers of time and travel in reverse to our most humble roots in the sea. But what a remarkable and fascinating journey it has been. And while we may argue passionately about who or what started and influenced it all -- an onipotent Creator or eons of trial and error -- there is ample proof that life is constantly changing. Great variations of animals and plants have evolved before us and -- should the human race live far into the future -- we will no doubt bear witness to an unending procession of changes to come, many brought on by us and many well beyond our control.
...Just as this sentence is the remains of thought, a fossil is the remains of ancient life forms or traces of their activities. Bones, teeth, cartilage -- even dung can fossilize.
Chapter 3. Pre-Meg Terrors
Just how does the whorl fit into the jaw? Paleo artist Todd Marshall was asked to depict it this way. But is this rendition how helicoprion really looked?
...Following the decline in armored fish in the Permian Period 286-245 mya, sharks seemed to experiment with bizarre body shapes and teeth patterns... Helicoprion was about 10 feet long and boasted a strange jaw filled with teeth assembled in a dramatic whorl. It coiled up and may have resembled a Nautilus. The teeth -- arranged in single file, rather than multiple rows -- may have been used as a cutting blade. The upper jaw had flat crushing teeth.
Chapter 4. The Rise...
C. megalodon vertebra. Size: 4 inches wide x 2 inches thick. South Carolina river find. From the private collection of Jeff McManus. Photo by author.
..."I'm interested in asking the question, "How do you grow a very large shark like a megalodon from a small, sort of average size ancestor?" says MacFadden. "What were the mechanisms in terms of evolution? How do you grow a large shark over time? And that relates to a field in paleontology called heterochrony, which is the study of how growth rates change from ancestors to descendants."
Chapter 5. ...The Fall
A pod of killer whales attacks an adult Meg, which manages to turn the tables, at least temporarily. Illustration by Kyle Kirby.
Shark researcher Gordon Hubbell theorizes that Meg was a specialist, and that when its chief food source was gone, it wasn't long until Meg disappeared too. "When the whale population disappeared in the tropics and temperate zone, and moved to the Polar regions, Meg couldn't adjust to the the change in diet or change in water temperature," said Hubbell. It got to the point that it was so big and so specialized that it couldn't survive when its main food supply disappeared like that."
Smithsonian fossil shark specialist Robert Purdy has a different opinion...
Chapter 6. Then Again, What If...?
Original photo art by Erik Hollander, featured on www.megsite.com. Shark and teeth are exaggerated.
A six-inch modern C. megalodon tooth? (From private collection of Gordon Hubbell). Photo by author.
...If you ask novelist Steve Alten (MEG, Doubleday, 1997), he believes the experts, not Meg, are dead—as in dead wrong. "The only thing we have that proves these sharks existed is their fossilized teeth, says Alten. "Everything else about them is pure speculation, including the most important question: Could meg still be alive?"
...As the monstrous shark passed through, the men said the water "boiled, over a large space." These were veteran seamen not easily brought to fear, yet Stead suggested they acted like small children who were afraid of being left alone in the dark. What had they seen? Was it a huge megalodon shark? Were these giant beasts still living as recently as the early 1900s?
Chapter 7. Hunting the Hunter
William Larue with C. megalodon teeth pulled from the depths of New Caledonia between Australia and Fiji. The larger of the two is 6-3/8inches. Lingual view. Photo by Pierre Larue.
...Hunting one of the most ferocious beasts ever to inhabit earth's oceans is not for the timid or inexperienced. Then again, perhaps it is. Bravery, valor and marksmanship may be important for hunting live game, but to pursue Meg one needs to rely more on solid research and a little luck.
Chapter 8. A Dentist's Nightmare (Meg dentition)
The tip of a Meg tooth under a macro lens. Photo by Dave Ward.
Do sharks prefer serrated teeth over non-serrated teeth? If you were to ask Meg, the answer is probably yes. Acquiring serrations is a far easier task than acquiring legs. When Meg's ancestors first began to evolve, their teeth were sharp and straight-edged. By the time, Meg reached her peak, the sharks had developed fine serrations. Apparently, the manufacturer's of steak knives have learned what Meg eventually discovered -- that serrated edges cut better and retain their sharpness longer than non-serrated edges.
Chapter 9. Beauty and the Beast (Photo galleries for identification of Meg, her ancestors, cousins and underwater neighbors)
The largest Meg tooth in the world? Find out how big it really is. (Found by Vito Bertucci, and now part of private collection of Gordon Hubbell). Photo by author.
Other shark and non-shark fossils that show up while looking for Meg. Fossils are from private collection of Steve Alter, Jeff McManus and author. Photos by author.
Mysteries intrigue us, and the mystery behind the life and times of a 60-foot monster that regularly dined on huge whales, stretches both our imagination and our sense of reality. This was a real monster, not a ficticious creature born in the mind of some Hollywood movie producer. It's teeth were not just a tool to secure a meal, but a true work of art -- then and now.
Chapter 10. When Things Go Wrong (Abnormalities in the fossil record)
Meg tooth with deformed serrations, indicating true pathology. South Carolina River find. From the private collection of Jeff McManus. Photo by author.
"True pathologies will usually show some signs of healing or infection," says Sinibaldi. "In Megs, this damage would have likely occurred to the jaw, or when the tooth had not yet fully moved to the feeding position from farther back in the file."
Chapter 11. Meg Attack!
A 9-inch long section of whale rib whith shark bite marks -- most likely from a C. megalodon shark. Photo and fossil by Dave Ward.
But imagine living the life of a mother sperm whale in the warm waters of the early Miocene, some 18 mya. At 50 to 60 feet long, you would be the same size as the megalodons that stalk you and your young, but even with large, pointy teeth and huge jaws, you're no match for those awesome, 6-feet wide jaws with trangular, saw-blade teeth in excess of seven inches. You get some relief by traveling in a pod, but you're always on alert, never knowing from which direction your attacker will approach.
Chapter 12. Terror Index: Was Meg the baddest of them all?
All hail the king: Tyrannosaurus rex. Illustration by Rob Sula
...So for the purpose of this chapter, a select few beasts were chosen for comparison. Each was rated on a "Terror Index", according to the following simple criteria. If they were all placed on an even playing field, who would be the fiercest? The index is from 1-10, with 10 being the baddest of the bad. Although the biographical sketches for each animal are factual, the conclusions reached are just for fun.
Afterword. Why Protect Sharks Today?
...One day at the age of 15, while I was fighting a mud fish I had just hooked, something clicked inside my head. I realized for the first time that the fish I was fighting wasn't having nearly as good a time as I was. I am greatly enjoying this, I thought, while he is struggling for his very life. I didn't quit fishing immediately, but after that realization, I gradually lost interest in the sport of fishing. There just seemed to be something fundamentally wrong when a creature like myself, capable of respect and compassion, could find entertainment in forcing pain and suffering onto another innocent creature.
Still, I loved to eat fish, and thought nothing of sinking my teeth into a finely cooked fillet of Cajun-style catfish, deep-sea grouper or other fish straight from the grocery store ice bins. I didn't like the notion of fish suffering on my account even for food, but logic told me that those fish were going to have to die if I was going to continue living.
...Today, an estimated 100 million sharks are being killed per year. Although shark meat is eaten, it is expensive and difficult to preserve, so the fins are usually removed and the shark is thrown back – to either bleed to death or drown.
Meg Related Books, Museums, Web Sites and Fossil Clubs