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The Megalodon, a huge prehistoric shark

Updated on April 5, 2015
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Common used nicknames and genealogy

It is only 1,5 million years ago, when the megalodon became exinct. Scientists are still trying to figure out the reason of its extinction. A food shortage might have played a mayor role. The creature might have lived at the same time period as ancient humans. The megalodon is mostly called Carcharodon megalodon, also known as C. megalodon. Other nicknames being used are Megaselachus megalodon and Carcharocles megalodon. It is notable that he disappeared just 1,5 million years ago. Most other sea monsters disappeared around 65 years ago, long before the existence of the very first megalodon. According to scientists, "Cretolamna appendiculata" is probably one of his ancestors. Although, this prehistoric shark was a lot smaller. The connection between the white shark and the megalodon related to it's ancestors, is still not clear at this point.


Size and appearance

The appearance of the megalodon looked a lot like the white shark. Its body was a bit less pointy compared to the great white. The prehistoric sea monster belongs to one of the biggest predators ever. It could reach a length of about 60 foot (20 meters). Earlier estimations of about 90 foot (30 meters), seems to be incorrect. These estimations have been refined, after scientists discovered more about the bodyshape of nowadays sharks. Researchers have found fossilized teeth of a length of 7 inches (18 centimers). These fossils are twice the size of white shark teeth. Its tailfin of four meters, was twice as big as his backfin. His tailfin was therefore sticking out of the water. There could be a possibility of bigger sized megalodons, which scientists still have to discover.


A unique hunting method to hunt down prehistoric whales

Scientists are almost certain about the kind of diet this creature had. Whales and other gigantic creatures belonged to its daily meal. Scientists discovered that ancient whales were mostly located in the Great Ocean. Other area's were mostly ignored due the water temperature. The megalodon used this knowledge and used the same swimming routes as the ancient whales. This hunting strategy was the most effective one. Megalodon's upper skin was most likely dark colored. His presence would be unknown. He could easily initiate a surprise attack from beneath. Using his strong jaws, one bite would be enough to be able to kill his prey. This way of hunting has been confirmed by examining different kind of fossils.


A sudden extinction

Most likely, 1,5 million years ago, most of the prehistoric whales migrated to the poles. This could have caused a wave of extinction. This happened during a period of coldness. Due climate changes, the whales had found a way to avoid the megalodons. Just like nowadays sharks, the creatures preferred a certain water temperature. Unlike mammals, he was unable to adapt his body temperature. The species probably died due these two mayor causes. Although, there is still no 100 procent certainty.


Fossilized specimens

The creature's bite was even more powerful than the one from a tyrannosaurus rex. This was caused by it's enormous jaws and muscles. Most of its body existed of cartilage. Cartilages digests easily. Only the remains of his jaws have been found because of this reason. The megalodon's teeth are a much wanted fossile for collectors all over the world. One famous collector, "VIto Bertucci", managed to collect a complete jawline. This collection measures about 9 foot in height(3 meters) and 10.5 foot(3.5 meters) in width.


Archeologic examinations to date the fossils
Sceptics claim the existence of megalodons in modern time. Fossils have been found on the seafloor, which has been formed recently according a geological scale. This has been formed about a few tens of thousands of years ago. Sceptics state that the megalodon may still exist somewhere in the deep, in places which have not been discovered by scientists yet. Researchers claimed to have found fossils which were "only" a few tens of thousands of years old. These claims have been proven wrong. Old dating technics have caused mistakes during the examination of its age. To proof the existence of a real megalodon which is still alife, unfossiled teeth have to be found.

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