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Sharks: Prehistoric Sharks Interesting Info and Pictures
Shark Week Addiction
Is anyone else a total geek for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel? Shark Week is playing right now on the Discovery Channel and usually airs once a year towards the end of June/beginning of August. If you're a shark geek like me and my family, maybe you'd be interested to know what prehistoric sharks were like. Were they bigger? More aggressive? Did they look totally different or were they exactly the same? Here are some very interesting facts and pictures of prehistoric sharks.
The First Sharks in History
The first sharks date back to 400 million years ago and include the Cladoselache, Stethacanthus, Orthacanthus, and Xenacanthus species. The most intriguing of these four types of sharks has to be the Stethacanthus. What makes this prehistoric shark so bewildering is the fact that the Stethacanthus is said to have had a platform-type dorsal fin, instead of the normal pointed dorsal fin that we are so used to seeing on sharks in modern times. The illustration to the right gives us a pretty good idea as to what the platform-adorned Stethacanthus shark would have looked like, millions of years ago. It is speculated by scientists that the platform-shaped dorsal fin of the Stethacanthus might have been a part of their scare tactics towards other predators or maybe a way to attract mates. Whatever the actual purpose of this strange fin, the shark looks like a type of submarine to me! He is the most fascinating and strangest of the first prehistoric sharks.
Megalodon - The Monster Shark
The Megalodon is probably the scariest shark in the history of this planet, not to mention one of the most aggressive. So...attack stories and pictures of the Great White jumping out of the water freak you out a bit? Think about this - an adult Great White grows to a maximum length of 25 feet, but can you guess how long the Megalodon could grow to be? The Megalodon, or the monster of the sea, is speculated to have the ability to have grown to a total length of 98 feet and a weight of at least 70 short tons! That's almost 75 feet larger than the size of the largest Great White Shark, which also means a larger-sized appetite.
Take a look at the size comparison below and to the right. The green shark is the size of an adult Great White, the violet is the size of a Whale Shark (right now the largest shark on Earth), and the red and gray sharks are the size of a Megalodon. Can you also see the human standing to the left of these sharks? Unbelievable! The Megalodon was to open his jaws and could swallow at least three adults whole.
What did this monstrous shark prey upon? Research and theories indicate that the megalodon's bite was so destructive that they most likely preyed on whales and probably dolphins, as well. I'm pretty much assuming whatever they could get their mouth around, they would eat. The force in the bite of the Megalodon is said to be the most powerful bite in history. If we are scared of the bite of the Great White these days, we couldn't begin to imagine the bite of a Megalodon and I guarantee we wouldn't have a chance of surviving.
Ptychodus - The Less Aggressive Mollusk Eater
One prehistoric shark that is great in size but less aggressive and terrifying is the Ptychodus. The Ptychodus is said to have actually preyed upon mollusks, instead of the typical whale, dolphin, or fish meat that was and is typical for most large sharks on Earth. Fossilized teeth of the Ptychodus have been found in North America, specifially in Kansas and they are said to have lived in the Cretaceous period. In order to eat their source of food, the Ptychodus would use their flat molar-like teeth to crush the shells of the Mollusks and eat the contents inside. Though a large shark, the Ptychodus was one that would have been obviously less feared by other sharks and sea creatures than the Megalodon.
Squalicorax - Scavenger of the Sea
The Squalicorax had an intriguing and unique method of finding food for a species of shark. Consumption of leftovers, scraps of dinosaurs and other sea creatures are what the squalicorax would eat. However, this is just a theory to some and these theories take it so far as to nickname the Squalicorax the "Crow Shark". Many scientists and scholars disagree with this nickname, though and claim that the Squalicorax most likely consumed fish and very rarely scavenged for their meals. The Squalicorax was very close to the size of the modern day Tiger Shark and probably had an appetite and mannerisms to match the Tiger Shark.
Prehistoric Shark Books
So does the Great White still scare you? I would be more frightened to find out that the Megalodon still exists, and who is to say that it doesn't? The ocean is the last frontier on earth and we have yet to find out all of the mysterious dynamics and potential giant sea creatures that dwell within the oceans' depths. I would do yourself a favor and don't go swimming off of a boat in the middle of the ocean...ever. Watch shark week and you'll see what I mean. Whether prehistoric sharks or just your average run-of-the-mill Bull Shark, these species of sea animals are not friendly and only drive to find their next source of energy...meat.
© 2011 Nicole Canfield