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GIANT SHARK by Caroline Arnold


Megalodon, Prehistoric Super Predator

by Caroline Arnold & illustrated by Laurie Caple

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 2000
ISBN: 0-395-91419-1
Publisher: Clarion

Get ready for Megalodon, the big-tooth, prehistoric shark that grew longer than a school bus, and downed horse-size animals in a single gulp. A good thing it became extinct about two million years ago. The author of many science titles for children will have no trouble finding an audience for this crowd-pleaser. The dramatic text embellishes what little is known about the shark from fossil remains, and then extrapolates from living relatives like the Great White Shark to tell the rest of the story. Scientists have found some vertebra as well as numerous enormous teeth, and based on these findings have constructed models of Megalodon. Since soft parts and most cartilage decay without becoming fossilized, much of the reconstruction is speculation. Topics are discussed in two-page displays, for example: Ancient and Modern Sharks, Megalodon's World, Inside Megalodon, A Megalodon Skeleton, Lost Teeth, Replaceable Teeth, and Megalodon Babies. Discussing babies seems a gigantic reach, given how little evidence exists. Throughout, the teeth are a big part of the story. Sharks have more than a thousand teeth, and “They pop up into place as if they were on a conveyer belt. No matter how many teeth a shark loses, it is always prepared for its next meal.” The illustrator paints a toothy monster, which stretches from front to back cover, making him appropriately fearsome. Gleaming-white, saw-edged teeth stand out against the pink jaws and blue-gray watery world. Inside there are several impressive close-up views of the cavernous mouth and enormous teeth. Often the shark swims straight at the viewer for maximum impact. While the illustrations of people studying fossils are somewhat wooden, the artist seems comfortable with portraying the underwater world of ancient giants. Good stuff. (index) (Nonfiction. 7-10)