A jaw-some new display is giving visitors to Leeds City Museum something to get their teeth into by showcasing the animal kingdom’s biggest and best biters.
The new Bite Me! display features an impressive array of teeth, skulls and bones from modern mammals and reptiles as well as the fossilised remains of extinct creatures which once ruled the land and seas. Among them is the enormous tooth of a Megalodon – a gigantic, 60ft long shark which dominated the ocean around three million years ago, feeding on whales and other sharks.
Megalodon’s massive jaws were filled with five rows of more than 250 razor sharp teeth and the formidable predator had a bite which could exert a colossal 180,000 newtons of pressure – even stronger than the bite of Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Other exhibits include the skulls of an 11,000 year-old brown bear, a dolphin and an Atlantic walrus complete with long, canine tusks.
Ruth Martin, Leeds City Museum’s curator of exhibitions, said: “Animals’ skulls and teeth can tell us a great deal about how the planet’s different species have adapted and evolved in response to changes in the environment over many years.
“They can also show us how an animal’s diet and feeding behaviour determine factors like the shape of their teeth and how powerful their bite is.
“But it’s particularly awe-inspiring to look at the teeth of a ferocious super-predator like Megalodon and imagine how they must have looked and what a radically different and unforgiving place the world they lived in was.”
Also part of the Bite Me! display are the fossilised skull of an Ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like marine reptile which lived 210 million years ago; the tooth of a Plesiosaur, a large, Jurassic ocean predator and the lower front tooth of a woolly mammoth.
They are shown alongside the skulls and teeth of more modern animals like a hyena, a wild boar and a crocodile.
Councillor Brian Selby, lead member for museums and galleries, said: “These remains give a great insight into a key aspect in the evolution of some of our planet’s most impressive creatures over hundreds of millions of years.
“I’m sure the eye-catching way they have been displayed will also grab the attention of visitors and fill visitors’ imaginations with images of fearsome giant sharks anf huge wooly mammoths.”
Bite Me! can be found in the Life on Earth Gallery at the museum, which is free to enter. Visit http://www.leeds.gov.uk/museumsandgalleries/Pages/Leeds-City-Museum.aspx.
The mighty megalodon’s stats...
The megalodon is named after the ancient Greek for “big tooth”.
The huge sharks mainly fed on large prey, such as whales, seals as well as giant turtles.
Large megalodons had jaws spanning roughly three metres (10 ft) across.
Mature male megalodons may have had a body mass of 12.6 to 33.9 metric tons.
Shark bite researchers have estimated that megalodon’s jaws to be powerful enough to crush a small car- the strongest bite ever formally estimated.