Under the Sea: Could Megalodon be Real?


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This year's shark week brought about the Megalodon myth yet again, a documentary about a 50 foot shark from a prehistoric nightmare. The Megalodon that lived anywhere from 16 million to 2 million years ago could eat an entire whale whole and had the most powerful bite that could crush an entire car.  Sharks have a skeleton which are made up of mostly cartilage and so was Megalodon, leaving nothing of the prehistoric beast but its teeth which are made of a bone-like material.  Megalodon's teeth are enough for scientists to know what Megalodon look like and they are able to tell that it's ancestor, the great white, looks similar with its large teeth and blunt snout. Since our oceans are mostly undiscovered and what we do know is very little how are people so quick to say that Megalodon is a myth and something like this never existed?


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Around 2 million years ago, Megalodon went extinct during the Miocene era for reasons that are still unknown. One hypothesis from Peter Klimley, a shark expert at the University of California at Davis, is that Megalodon was unable to adapt to the changing conditions of the oceans through the years. During the Miocene, the Isthmus of Panama started forming and caused the closure of the Central American Seaway around 3 million years ago which caused the exchange between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to be cut off which lead to regions of Earth's seas becoming cooler. Megalodon may not have been able to evolve with no ability to maintain an elevated body temperature.  White sharks are able to occupy cooler waters, such as off the coast of Oregon, eventually seals, dolphins, and whales moved farther north since that was where the cooler water was. Megalodon was unable to travel north and later went extinct.  Killer whales eventually look over Megalodon's food supply by out-competing them with their hunting style. 

In "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives" Discovery Channel made an entire "mock-umentary" on this myth of Megalodon. Along with "Mythbusters" Discovery Channel aired the show about how this giant shark might still be out there off the coast of South Africa. The Examiner begrudgingly makes the point that make species that were thought to be myth actually were real and very much alive such as the giant squid.  However, Megalodon would not have been able to survive the oceanic change as well as the depletion of their food supply. Megalodon may have been real at one point, over 2 million years ago but it's hard to believe that there is a 50 foot giant shark hanging around South Africa today.

If Megalodon or something similar is still in existence today would it really be hard to believe when we ourselves don't even know what's exactly under the water?

1 Comment

The thought of the Megalodon actually being real terrifies me. I can barely get in the ocean at Bethany Beach without being scared that there's a shark within even a hundred yards of me. Though part of me feels like if there really was a Megalodon still in existence that we would have found it by now, but you do make a good point about the giant squid. If something like that was alive for so long and we didn't know about it, whose to say that the Megalodon isn't still out there? Here's an article I found about Discovery Channel's mockumentary about the Megalodon and about whether or not it was fake: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/07/showbiz/tv/discovery-shark-week-megalodon/index.html

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