15/04/2024

Does The Megalodon Shark Still Exist

Does The Megalodon Shark Still Exist

 It was the stuff of ɴɪɢʜᴛᴍᴀʀᴇs. The Megalodon shark could ʀɪᴘ a whale apart effortlessly and was up to three times the size of a great white shark. Megalodon is believed to be ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛ, or is it? It’s often said that we know as little about the depths of Earth’s oceans as we do about outer space. Consider how ꜰʀɪɢʜᴛᴇɴɪɴɢ and intriguing some of the yet to be discovered species that roam these deep, dark places could be. ​The few glimpses of knowledge we have seen appear nothing less than ᴛᴇʀʀɪꜰʏɪɴɢ: ᴠɪᴄɪᴏᴜs ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs, extreme sizes, and new ways to ᴋɪʟʟ ᴘʀᴇʏ. With all these ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs roaming around unknown waters, a question has arisen around the scientific world: could the Megalodon shark still be alive?

What Was The Megalodon Shark? The Megalodon shark (meaning “Big tooth”) lived in the Cenozoic Era, between 23 and 2.6 million years ago. It is reputed to be one of the most ᴠɪᴄɪᴏᴜs ᴘʀᴇᴅᴀᴛᴏʀs in history. Megalodon easily dwarfed the great white shark in size by about two or three times. Surely, after examining the physical characteristics of the species, we can understand why it earned such a ᴛᴇʀʀɪʙʟᴇ reputation. The shark is believed to have measured between 13 and 17 meters (43 – 56 feet) in length, quite uncommon even for whale sharks. The biggest fossils of the species even measured closer to 25 meters (82 feet). The teeth of this animal were also quite impressive. The fossilized teeth are so large that for long, people actually thought they were dragon tongues. These teeth averagely measured between 11 and 17 cm (4 – 6.7 in.), depending on the shark’s total body size. Discoveries around the world—in locations as diverse as Panama, Japan, Australia, and the southeastern United States—piled up over time, but one particular find raised the sᴘᴇᴄᴛᴇʀ of a Meg still swimming in the deep. In 1875, during an expedition for the Royal Society of London, the HMS Challenger dredged up 4-inch-long teeth from a depth of 14,000 feet near Tahiti. In 1959, zoologist Wladimir Tschernezky, who made a hobby of researching “hidden animals” like Bigfoot, estimated the specimens were just 11,300 years old. Other scientists have since dismissed this dating, but unscrupulous documentarians and curious amateurs still highlight the research as a hint that Meg might persist. Save for the outliers found by the Challenger, the megalodon’s fossil record indicates it was a shore-hugging creature, similar to its distant cousin the great white. “Remains generally come from coastal marine rock deposits formed in tropical-temperate areas,” says DePaul University shark researcher Kenshu Shimada. The species’s dietary habits further confirm a shallow lifestyle, with gnawed ancient whale bones showing Meg’s preference for marine mammals. These air breathers had to break through the surface for oxygen, so paleontologists expect megalodon, like them, hung out near the shore.

The exact combination of factors that pushed the ancient shark into ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛɪᴏɴ is still murky. We do know that shallower oceanic zones were undergoing dramatic changes around 3.5 million years ago, when the giant disappears from the fossil record. Water was growing cooler, making marine mammals less abundant, and the newly evolved great white may have served as a nimble ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴇᴛɪᴛᴏʀ for resources. But there’s no way to prove definitively what did in the Meg. In addition, more studies on fossil evidence show other ʜᴜɴᴛɪɴɢ techniques. Such techniques ranged from ʀɪᴘping apart or ʙɪᴛɪɴɢ off fins to immobilize their ᴘʀᴇʏ, or ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ/grabbing small whales from below.

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