Ancient Monsters of the Deep Seas – Megalodon

24 Mar

To all the shark-lovers out there, this will definitely interest you. To everyone else… well, try not to have nightmares about this coming towards you while you’re swimming.

Artist Karen Carr's representation of the megalodon (source: http://www.karencarr.com/tmpl1.php?CID=196)

Artist Karen Carr’s representation of the megalodon (source: http://www.karencarr.com/tmpl1.php?CID=196)

C. megalodon, or simply ‘megalodon’, is the name given to a terrifyingly-large shark species that roamed our oceans from around 28 to 1.5 million years ago. Although it is now extinct, and has been for millennia, the megalodon remains one of the most powerful and dangerous predators ever to have existed.

Fossil remains show that the megalodon was also one of the largest predators throughout history, with some measuring up to nearly 70 feet long. Their serrated teeth were disturbingly large; here is a picture of one of their teeth next to those belonging to great white sharks.

Megalodon tooth next to great white shark teeth - Courtesy of Parzi

Megalodon tooth next to great white shark teeth – Courtesy of Parzi

Imagine being bitten by one of those! Here’s another picture of a reconstructed megalodon jaw:

Jaw reconstruction of megalodon - Photo by Serge Illayronov (http://www.naviquan.com)

Jaw reconstruction of megalodon – Photo by Serge Illayronov (http://www.naviquan.com)

The location of found megalodon fossils shows that they lived in oceans all over the world, and they would have had quite an effect on other marine creatures living at the time, due to their predatory nature and extreme size.

Scientists are unsure as to what led to the demise of the megalodon species, but there are a few theories. New competition may have emerged, or there could have been a decline in food supply. Being so enormous, they would have required a lot of food, so a decline in available prey could easily have crippled them. Another theory is that global cooling of the oceans may have had an effect on the megalodons, as they preferred to live in warmer waters. It could well have been a combination of all these factors.

Whilst it is sad that the megalodon eventually became extinct like so many other ancient species, I bet that the majority of people in the world are glad that this isn’t something that they have to worry about running into while out swimming or diving!

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