You may have heard about the largest shark that ever lived on Earth. It is Megalodon. Though you have heard about him, I’m quite sure that you have never seen him. That is because the Megalodons died before the evolution of humans. There are no records to prove the exact day of extinction of megalodon sharks as the fossil records are not complete.
The famous film ‘The Meg’ was released in 2018. It has a story crafted around humans and megalodons. If this giant shark lived in the present, then we will get news about him at least once every month. He is such a dangerous and fearful marine animal.
Efforts to research Megalodon fossils
Several pieces of research have been done to investigate megalodon. Some of them have collected pieces of evidence to show the existence of this creature millions of years ago.
A group of researchers at the University of Zurich studied the megalodon shark fossils. They used a technique called optimal linear estimation to find out the age. The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE. It revealed that most of the fossils belong to the middle Miocene epoch to the Pliocene epoch which means 15.9 million to 2.6 million years ago.
The group of researchers also claimed that 6 out of 10 000 simulations show that there is a 1% probability for the giant shark to be still alive. The chance is too small and it has a very low possibility for it to become true.
No one has seen r discovered the megalodon shark in the recent past. There are no even younger fossils that stretch back to recent centuries. Scientists have concluded that the megalodon has passed away from the planet Earth.
Characteristics of Megalodon
It is revealed that a megalodon is an enormous great white shark. No one is able to tell the exact characteristics of the animal as he is no more. It had a shorter nose or rostrum. So it is different from the great white sharks having a flatter and squashed jaw.
Can you imagine the size of megalodon? People say that the megalodon is a gigantic creature. But sometimes it may not be large as you think. Some people believe that it can be long about 80 feet (25 m). Modern giant white shark reaches a length of 20 feet (6 m) and the whale shark is about 32 feet (9.7 m). The longest bony fish can reach up to 36 feet (11 m). Shark is not the longest bony fish because they don’t have bones. Now, you can imagine the length of a megalodon.
Researchers have found that the largest tooth of megalodon that was found up to now is 7 inches long. It is three times longer when compared to that of a great white shark.
Megalodon teeth were very common. Almost every fossil had teeth. Have you ever thought about the reason for that? Sharks lose several teeth every one to two weeks depending on the food they eat. So they get about 40 000 teeth during their lifetime. It is the hardest part of the shark’s body. It is a common incident to find shark teeth as a fossil from the sea bed.
It is very rare to find a preserved soft tissue of a shark as its whole body is composed of softer cartilage. It is similar to the cartilage in our ears and nose.
Foods of Megalodon
This creature was at the top level in the food chain predators. Many researchers claim that megalodon may have eaten meat. Large serrated teeth are proof of that. Whales, large fish, and also shark may be their prey. Whales, sharks, and dolphins are now considered the giants of oceans that were prey for megalodon. As big animals need a big meal to survive, megalodon too had eaten a large meal.
Researchers have explained the way how megalodon hunts animals. They attacked the flipper and tails of the mammals. So it prevents animals from swimming. Then the poor animal dies and becomes the flesh for this fearful animal. The teeth of megalodons play an important role in ripping flesh.
Fossilized whale bones reveal lots of facts on dietary patterns of megalodons. Some of them have cut marks of megalodon teeth on the surface skin. There were fossils with having tips of teeth immersed in bones. It must be million years old.
It is believed that megalodon had to open their mouth wide to tackle the prey. The jaw must have a span of 2.7 by 3.4 meters wide. It is amazing as they were able to swallow two adult people side-by-side. The jaws had 276 teeth a line. So it must be the most powerful predator that had existed in the sea. Megalodon had a bite of between 108 514 and 182 201 N and it is 18 216 N in white sharks.
The whales can thermoregulate. They can migrate towards colder water of the poles too. So they might have escaped from megalodons. This might be a reason that leads to the extinction of this fearful animal species.
Habitat of Megalodon
Megalodon preferred warmth just like dinosaurs. Their teeth were found on all continents except in the Antarctic. So they must have been available all around our planet. The ice age made water locked up in the poles. The shark might have starved or frozen due to that and the group of megalodon was missed to the planet.
Can Megaloden still live?
The short answer is no. There is no way to prove that even. This giant shark can’t hind from the people. At least they should place traces of the sharp teeth in the bodies of marine animals. No such evidence was seen in the recent past. Megalodon will stay as an extinct animal in the future too.
We have lost many diverse creatures on Earth. As humans, we need to protect our nature to make it a suitable place for all creatures.