When I reached the world’s pre-eminent sculptor of long-dead monsters, he was standing atop a ladder inside a 16-foot-tall section of a megalodon tail that was propped upright in his warehouse-size studio. “I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m inside a bathroom,” Gary Staab said on his cellphone. The tail was part of a 52-foot-long, life-size model of the prehistoric shark that Staab was custom-building for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The mighty megalodon, terror of the ancient oceans, could grow to 60 feet long, with a mouth stretching more than 9 feet wide and a bite-force stronger than any other creature ever, living or dead. The violent damage it caused to its prey, and the rows of serrated teeth, have given the shark the reputation of an enormous prehistoric Jaws—“a great white on steroids,” says Hans Sues, chair of paleobiology at the museum.
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