While a lot of recent work-related has gone into when Megalodon go extinct (to be discussed in information in Saturday’s post), there’s much less work regarding when specifically this huge shark an initial appeared. However I can tell you this v certainty: no, Megalodon was no alive when dinosaurs were still roaming the earth.

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Figure 1: The sheathe of “Meg: A Novel that Deep Terror” by Steve Alten illustrating its prologue.

This is a surprisingly common case in net forums, an extremely likely a an outcome of the shark’s fictional portrayals. The previously of the two low spending plan movies named “Megalodon” functions a personality stating that Megalodon “did 65 million years ago” and Steve Alten’s first novel in his “Meg” series contains a prologue collection during the Cretaceous in i beg your pardon a Megalodon eats a T. Rex (something the film sadly left out) (Fig. 1). Bluntly, this insurance claim is nonsense. Ns confess ns a sucker for that prologue, however there is for sure no proof that Megalodon, or any type of shark named Otodus for that matter, was about at the very same time together the dinosaurs. However, we do have enough recorded fossils the its teeth to provide us one idea of once it first emerged and how long it to be around.

Some the the more quickly Megalodon teeth have been dated as far earlier as the early Miocene date (~23 million years ago), lengthy after the last non-avian dinosaurs had actually kicked the bucket <1>. This was conveyed via a meta-analysis of all Megalodon events reported come the Palaeobiology Database (PBDB; see Fig. 2), created up as among the final records in Catalina Pimiento’s doctor <1>. This work not only provided an point out of just how long Megalodon lasted together a types but also obtained a broader look in ~ its geographic range, and its an international abundance v time. Together such, about 23 million years earlier is said to be as soon as the first baby Megalodon arrived in the world. From there, the varieties swam the oceans for the next 20 million years – yes, 20 million! the is one exceptionally long time because that a solitary species, and such a big one at that, to have actually lived. That extinction date has been argued to be in between 3.6 and 2.6 million years ago <2,3> (we’ll acquire to the in a future post). In sum, Megalodon live for a really lengthy time, asserting its prominence in the waters the the Miocene (23-5.3 Ma) and Pliocene (5.3-2.6 Ma) epochs.

Based top top gathered fossil data indigenous Pimiento’s PhD work <1,4>, Megalodon is revealed to have had a cosmopolitan distribution, life worldwide. That fossils have actually been uncovered on every continent other than Antarctica (Fig. 2). Some published sites where Megalodon teeth have actually been found include California and also Baja California in Mexico <3>, the Guadalquivir basin in southerly Spain <5>, the island of Borneo <6>, and the Gatun formation in Panama <7,8>. In addition, the most finish vertebral column known to the fossil document was found in the Antwerp basin in Belgium <9>.

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Figure 2: All known O. Megalodon fossil cases recorded in the PBDB together of 2016. Blue dots represent confirmed fossil cases whereas yellow dots space dubious events (those that lack some that the proper geological information). Taken indigenous Pimiento et al. 2016 <1>.Although Megalodon had a worldwide distribution, the fossil record has indicated feasible differences in size across its geographic range. Return to the 2015 Pimiento and Balk research <4>, they likewise recorded the geographic selection of your 500+ Megalodon teeth. By to compare this versus their calculated total lengths (TL), they could identify whereby the best sharks were living. When there to be no correlation between latitude and TL estimates, they discovered that sharks that the southerly hemisphere were significantly larger (mean TL = 11.62 m) than those the the northern hemisphere (mean TL = 9.58 m).

Furthermore, sharks of the Pacific s (mean – 10.9 m) were considerably larger than sharks the the Atlantic ocean (mean – 9.53 m). While Pimiento and Balk do acknowledge in their document that one should not dominance out sampling predisposition (a lot much more teeth from the north hemisphere and also Atlantic ocean were derived than from the Pacific ocean or southern hemisphere), their big overall sample size across a 14 million year range gives their results a the majority of merit. Therefore, Megalodon lived almost everywhere the people and, as much as we’re aware, the best specimens were maybe living in the southerly Pacific Ocean.

Lastly, I desire to talk around one particular site that reveals a lot around how Megalodon may have lived, particularly at very early stage of their lives. That website is the Gatun formation in Panama. In between 2007 and also 2009, over 400 fossil shark teeth were excavated native this website <7>. Roughly 30 the those belonged to Megalodon, dated to about 10 million years ago (Late Miocene). These this were taken ago to the Smithsonian Tropical study Institution in Balboa whereby they were inserted at the desk of Catalina Pimiento, a graduate student at the time. It developed to her that most of these Megalodon this were unusually small, through crown heights as tiny as only 16 mm. The could’ve been that these were every lateral teeth found at the earlier of the jaw. But there to be another, much more exciting possibility.

Gatun had been generally studied before and was widely argued to have been a very productive, shallow naval environment back in the Miocene <7>. Such areas are perfect for shark nurseries – offered by a number of species today, consisting of the an excellent white <10>. Nurseries are an essential for the survive of young sharks, used for plentiful food resources and, much more importantly, protection versus predators. Despite growing up come be rather formidable apex predators, even good whites are vulnerable in their beforehand years – particularly from predation by larger sharks. Nurseries room therefore suitable area for parental sharks to drop off your weans where they deserve to safely grow to a size for acquisition on larger prey <11>. To be it possible that Megalodon had likewise used such a tactic? Teaming up v her MSc (and later PhD) at sight Bruce MacFadden, and Dana Ehret and Gordon Hubbell, Pimiento collection out to i found it if Gatun had actually possibly been an ancient Megalodon nursery site.

To decipher this, the authors compared the tooth size of the Gatun specimens to an older and a younger site, aiming to dominance out a theory that Megalodon increased in size through time. Both little and big teeth were found in those sites, supporting their hunch. They climate calculated TL from the Gatun this <7>. Mike Gottfried had actually previously estimated from his own calculations the Megalodon babies (neonates) were 2-4 m long, vice versa, juveniles were 4-10.5 m; v adult size being reached beyond 10.5 m <9>. Pimiento et al’s results revealed sharks as tiny as 2 m long, with many being 2-10.5 m TL (Fig. 3). Finally, to compare the teeth to dentitions gathered by Hubbell revealed that their teeth came from a range of jaw positions, and also not just lateral teeth. Therefore, the authors might say through confidence that the Gatun Megalodons were mostly neonates and juveniles, indeed arguing the existence of a nursery site. Her suspicion currently supported by solid evidence, Pimiento and also her co-authors released their result in her first ever lead author file in 2010 <7>. To this day, it continues to be the very first result when you kind “Megalodon” right into Google Scholar and also has 78 citations as of July 2020.

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Figure 3: The frequency of Megalodon people at various life stages in Gatun, Panama. Taken indigenous Pimiento et al. 2010 <7>.In summary, Megalodon was a species that lived throughout ~20 million years from the early on Miocene come the Pliocene <1>. Throughout this time, it acquired a global distribution. When its body size did not readjust through time, the is feasible that the shark was normally larger in the southerly hemisphere and the Pacific ocean <4>. Certain sites of wherein Megalodon live have also revealed part incredible insight into your lives, amongst the most remarkable being the discovery of a 10 million year old nursery website in Panama, where their usually big and terrifying teeth space adorably tiny (Fig. 4) <7>. Since that very first paper, much more fossil shark nurseries have actually been discovered, many recently in Chile, where an old nursery that our really own good white shark was explained <12>. This sites tell us not only where these old sharks like Megalodon were living, yet truly capture that they were living, breathing animals once roaming our world in means not too dissimilar to the sharks we ourselves live alongside.

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Figure 4: Catalina Pimiento through the this of baby Megalodon sharks, which prospered up in nursery sites prefer the one in Panama <7>. Picture taken native Pimiento’s ResearchGate profile. Deserve to I get a “baby shark, do, do, do, do, do, do?”ReferencesPimiento C, MacFadden BJ, Clements CF, Varela S, Jaramillo C, Velez‐Juarbe J & Silliman BR 2016. Geographical distribution patterns of Carcharocles megalodon in time reveal clues about extinction mechanisms. J. Biogeogr. 43, 1645-1655.Pimiento C & Clements CF 2014. When did Carcharocles megalodon come to be extinct? A brand-new analysis that the fossil record. PLoS One 9, e111086.Boessenecker RW, Ehret DJ, long DJ, Churchill M, boy name E & Boessenecker SJ 2019. The at an early stage Pliocene extinction of the mega-toothed shark Otodus megalodon: a check out from the east North Pacific. PeerJ 7, e6088.Pimiento C & Balk MA 2015. Body-size trends of the extinct gigantic shark Carcharocles megalodon: a deep-time view on maritime apex predators. Paleobiology41, 479-490.Reolid M & Molina JM 2015. Record of Carcharocles megalodon in the eastern Guadalquivir basin (Upper Miocene, south Spain). Estud. Geol. 71, e032.Razak H & Kocsis l 2018. Late Miocene Otodus (Megaselachus) megalodon native Brunei Darussalam: Body length estimation and also habitat reconstruction. Neues Jahrb. Geol. Paläontol. Abh. 288, 299–306.Pimiento C, Ehret DJ, MacFadden BJ & Hubbell G 2010. Old nursery area because that the extinct gigantic shark Megalodon indigenous the Miocene of Panama. PLoS One 5, e10552.Pimiento C, González-Barba G, Ehret DJ, Hendy AJ, MacFadden BJ & Jaramillo C 2013. Sharks and rays (Chondrichthyes, Elasmobranchii) native the late Miocene Gatun development of Panama. J. Paleontol. 87, 755-774.Gottfried MD, Compagno LJV & archer SC 1996. Size and skeletal anatomy of the large “megatooth” shark Carcharodon megalodon. In: great White Sharks: the biology of Carcharodon carcharias (eds. Klimley AP & Ainley DG), 55–66, scholastic Press, mountain Diego.Dewar H, Domeier M & Nasby-Lucas N 2004. Insights into young the the year white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, actions in the southern California Bight. Environ. Biol. Fishes 70, 133-143.Heupel MR, Carlson JK & Simpfendorfer CA 2007. Shark nursery areas: concepts, definition, characterization and assumptions. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 337, 287-297.Villafaña JA, Hernandez S, Alvarado A, Shimada K, Pimiento C, Rivadeneria MM & Kirwet J 2020. Very first evidence that a palaeo-nursery area the the good white shark. Sci. Rep.

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Edited by Rhys Charles