You are here:

Interspecies Conflict/A Question By Tejas Again, As I Couldn't Follow Up

Advertisement


Question
Dear Mr. BK,
Its me, Tejas, again. Thanks a lot for your answers. For some reason I wasn't able to add a follow-up, so I'm asking again here.
According to Wikipedia, the size of a maximum Megalodon is described at a maximum of 20.3 meters (67 feet) in length, and at a weight of 103 metric tons, compared to the 42 feet Pliosaurus funkei, according to a recent study.
Also, the bite force of the Megalodon, is estimated at an average of 144,700 newtons, a maximum of 181,400 newtons, and a minimum of 108,000 newtons, compared to Pliosaurus with an average of 113,300 newtons, with a maximum of 150,000 newtons and a minimum of 73,400 newtons.
Therefore, I personally feel, though I am no expert, this would put Pliosaurus funkei at a considerable disadvantage in battle.
Could you, please, describe a battle between them in great detail, as I wish to know as much as I can.
Also, considering your recent answers, can you again list animals in terms of fighting, please, especially since you wanted the inclusion of the saltwater crocodile?
I understand it is extremely tough to get it accurate, but could you do it to your best understanding?
Thank you, and please answer it.

Answer
Hello again Tejas.

Megalodon, assuming it attained those dimensions, would have been able to overcome any ocean-dwelling creature that ever existed.  However, the exact size of Megalodon is a subject of debate, and it's unlikely it attained the size Wikipedia grants it. This is the section of text in Wikipedia you're refering to:

"In the 1990s, marine biologists such as Patrick J. Schembri and Staphon Papson opined that C. megalodon may have approached a maximum of around 24 to 25 metres (79 to 82 ft) in total length,[32][33] however Gottfried and colleagues proposed that C. megalodon could likely approach a maximum of only 20.3 metres (67 ft) in total length.[3][9][34] Currently, most experts agree the megalodon reached a total length of more than 16 metres (52 ft).[2][3][13][34]"

I'm not ruling out that Megalodon may have reached these sizes, but there's not enough remains available to us to pin it down.  Of course, we're in the same boat with the pliosaurs.  Their exact length in weight is also subject to debate as well.

Bite force is another grey area when it comes to prehistoric animals, but it's not as critical a factor (in interspecies conflict) as size is.  For example, a spotted hyena's bite force is greater than a grey wolf's.  This doesn't mean that if they were to fight that the grey wolf would be incapable of injuring the hyena.  A wolf's bite would definitely be capable of inflicting injury even though it's not as strong as the bite force of its opponent.  Whether or not the pliosaur's bite force is greater or smaller than Megalodon's is not going to be that relevant in a battle between the 2 because each animal's bite can do great damage to the other one.

The big key in a battle between these 2 giants is mobility.  The pliosaur's 4 long flippers give it the ability to swiftly change direction and initiate quick bursts of speed.  Megalodon primarily accomplishes locomotion by use of its tail, and it doesn't have the same agility in the water as a pliosaur does.  There are many places on the Megalodon the pliosaur will be able to land a bite without the stoutly-built shark being able to bend around to inflict a counter-bite.  I see the pliosaur usuing its mobility & quickness to land multiple bites on Megalodon while staying out of range of its fearsome jaws.  I think Megalodon's jaws would cause a more serious injury to the pliosaur than the other way around, but I don't think Megalodon will have nearly as many opportunities to land a bite.  I certainly believe this would be a close battle, but I would favor the pliosaur as long as it weighs at least 75-80% the weight of Megalodon.


Here is the revised list of modern animals using the peak abilities of the crocodile & the walrus (in water):

Top 10 most formidable animals in combat
1.  Sperm whale: At 20 meters long & over 60 tons in weight, the sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales.  Its teeth (on its lower jaw) are larger than bananas.  It can also use its tail to strike with.
2.  Killer whale: The killer whale (or orca) can weigh more than an elephant, and can reach 9 meters in length.  It has teeth in the top & bottom jaw, and is highly intelligent.  
3.  Elephant: At over 6 tons in weight, the elephant is the largest land animal.  It has long, sharp tusks that can be used effectively in combat.  
4.  Rhinoceros: Powerful body and long, sharp frontal horn make it a dangerous adversary.
5.  Great white shark: Better in ambush than in combat, but its huge jaws & razor sharp teeth give it one of the greatest weapons in the animal kingdom.
6.  Sawfish: This large fish has a saw-like snout that extends out from its head that can be used to slash opponents with.
7.  Hippopotamus: This highly aggressive animal has huge jaws & sharp canines that can cause serious damage to an opponent with one chomp.
8.  Walrus (in water): The walrus has good mobility in water, and can get into position easily to drive its meter-long tusks into an adversary.  Its extremely tough hide & thick blubber make it impervious to many attacks. Can weigh up to 2 tons.
9.  Crocodile (in water): Can weigh over a metric ton, and has huge, powerful jaws that can clamp onto a victim with great force.  A lot of its body (especially the back) is protected by osteoderms (bony growths).  Employs a "death roll" after securing a bite by rapidly spinning its body (creating a massive amount of torque).
10. Electric eel: Can produce 600 volts of electricity to stun an animal as large as a horse.

 
Here is the revised version of the list (with prehistoric animals included) with a few changes.  I will use the maximum weight estimates for Megalodon & the largest pliosaurs (which is not to say these weights are what I would accurately assign to them), move Deinosuchus & Dunkleosteus into the water to make use of their peak abilities, and include an animal I omitted in the last list that deserves to be included (Livyatan melvillei).

Top 10 most formidable:

1.  Megalodon (at maximum estimated weight): At 20.3 meters long and 103 metric tons, this giant shark would have had no rival in the seas.  Its gaping jaws and razor-sharp, serrated teeth would have made it a very dangerous opponent.

2.  Pliosaurs (at maximum estimated weights): The huge Liopleurodon possibly reached the length of a sperm whale, and weighed almost as much.  Its 4 flippers enabled it to move with ease through the water, and it was capable of sudden bursts of speed.  Its huge jaws (lined with sharp teeth) were very powerful.  Also included in this group would be the Pliosaurus funkei (predator X), Pliosaurus macromerus, Kronosaurus, and others.

3.  Livyatan melvillei: This prehistoric whale was almost the sperm whale's length, but probably weighed half as much.  However, it had large teeth on its upper & lower jaws.

4.  Sperm whale: At over 60 tons and over 60ft (18 meters+) long, this toothed whale is the undisputed one-on-one champ in the modern seas.

5.  Argentinosaurus: Not the most combative animal, but its sheer size (possibly 80-100 tons) would have made it safe from predation.  it could have easily trampled most other animals if it was determined to do so, and its tail could have been swung with great force.  Other large sauropods could be grouped here as well (Ultrasaurus, Brachiosaurus, Sauroposeidon, etc.).  If the animals listed at #6, #7, & #8 could move around as they do in their aquatic habitats in the same "playing field" as the Argentinosaurus moves around in its terrestrial habitat, they would push Argentinosaurus down to #8 and slide into the positions above it.

6.  Mosasaurs: These ocean-dwelling reptiles were long, slender, & very agile.  The largest ones were as long as a school bus and weighed as much as 2 elephants.  Their fearsome jaws would make short work of many adversaries.  

7.  Killer whale: The jaws, mobility, size, and intelligence put this mammal here on the list.  Close to a tie with #8.

8.  Deinosuchus (in water): This huge alligator-like reptile was twice as long as modern-day crocodiles and possibly 8 times as heavy.  Its incredible bite force would have enabled it to tackle large prey items.  Included here are other similar reptiles (Sarcosuchus, Purussaurus, etc.).   Close to a tie with #7.

9.  Dunkleosteus (in water): This giant armored fish was almost 10 meters long and weighed about 4 tons.  The front region of its body was covered in armor plating, and it powerful jaws were armed with bony edges on the top & bottom than were capable of crushing through anything it bit.

10. Eotriceratops/Steppe mammoth (tie): The Eotriceratops weighed more than the original Triceratops (an the original Triceratops weighed more than an elephant).  It had 3 sharp horns (2 long ones over the eyes and a smaller one over its nose) and a protective bony frill.  Included here are any large ceratopsians.  The Steppe mammoth was similar in appearance to an elephant, but over twice as heavy.  Huge, curved tusks could have been used to apply concussive force to an opponent.  Other mammoths & prehistoric elephant-like creatures can be considered here as well.

The Tyrannosaurus-rex (and other large theropods), the larger Ankylosaurs (and similar armored animals), Elasmotherium (and similar horned mammals), the blue whale (and other large modern whales), and possibly the huge Paraceratherium deserve consideration for this list.

Best regards.  

Interspecies Conflict

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


BK

Expertise

Questions regarding animal conflicts within realistic or unrealistic settings are welcome; my strength lies in medium-to-large species. Small animals (including birds of prey), prehistoric animals, sea creatures, and domestic dog breeds are usually within my scope, but to a lesser degree. I can't confidently answer hypothetical questions about human vs animal, arachnids, insects, or amphibians, but I am willing to field them nonetheless.

Experience

From a young age, I have been interested in animals. Starting with the original Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and World Book Encyclopedias, I have seen many animal shows and documentaries and have read multiple books on the subject. I have a solid understanding of the physiology of many animals and interspecies conflict in general.

Education/Credentials
Associate degree in unrelated field; biology classes in college.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.