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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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
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>.
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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Edited by Rhys Charles