The largest shark to ever exist - the Megalodon - is more than just a physical marvel.
The discovery of a tooth from the Megalodon by a Croatian fisherman is allowing scientists to dig into the behavior of predators of the Early Cretaceous era. Compared with other specimen from around the world, the tooth was a central part in identifying the species and tracking its ability to migrate around the world.
The Megalodon ruled the seas 100 million years ago as an apex predator. According to scientists, the shark was more than 18 meters long (20 feet). A single vertebrae from this shark is as large as a human hand. The most current findings help to prove that previous estimates of the size of this shark were too small. Additionally, the Megalodon is also considered one of the most powerful predators to ever exist in the sea.
Megalodon may have weighed up to 100 tons. Its bite had the ability to produce a force of between 10.8 and 18.2 tons. Despite all of this power, the shark was also one of the fastest predators in the sea, able to easily catch whales and sea turtles. It is actually a mystery how such a powerful predator could have died out, because there was literally nothing in the sea that could have matched its physical prowess. Many scientists believe that they actually became too large for their environment, and even though they were dining on whales at will, there was simply not enough calories in the sea to sustain their existence!
It is possible that the species has been misidentified, although scientists are becoming more sure of themselves with every new discovery. The current Great White shark is the closest thing to the Megalodon, although it is unknown whether they are a direct descendant. The Megalodon is known to have gone extinct around 2 billion years ago during the Pleistocene era, leaving a great deal of room for the Great White shark to be derived from another species of shark. However, the ferocity of the two species causes many scientists to keep the Megalodon in the picture.
What do you think? Why don't you come take a look?
The Discovery Center of Idaho in Boise is all about introducing science to your children in a family friendly environment. Take it from us - sharks are one of the best ways to get kids interested in science as a whole! Come see the Megalodon, and stay for the other exhibits - we think they are great as well!