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Palaeontology

Megalodon extinction gave whales a boost

By T.K. Randall
October 24, 2014 · Comment icon 25 comments

Megalodon was a monstrous predator of epic proportions. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Karen Carr
The disappearance of the world's biggest shark may have enabled whales to grow to huge sizes.
A shark of monstrous proportions that once dominated the prehistoric seas, megalodon was one of the largest predatory creatures to ever exist on planet Earth.

Growing up to 18m, this huge animal would have fed on just about anything that crossed its path but may have had a particular penchant for feasting on primitive baleen whales which at the time were a lot smaller than the whales we see today.
Now palaeontologists believe that when megalodon went extinct it enabled whales to grow much larger, paving the way for today's blue whales which are the largest creatures ever to exist.

Because of this connection between megalodon's extinction and the evolution of gigantism in whales it has also been possible to better refine the point in time at which this massive shark disappeared.

Scientists now believe that megalodon went extinct around 2.6 million years ago however the specific circumstances that lead up to its disappearance continue to remain a mystery.

Source: BBC News | Comments (25)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by Jacques Terreur 10 years ago
Coelacanth: believed extinct for 66 million years, survives. The oceans are vast and there is surely much yet to be learnt about what has and has not survived from earlier epochs. sure, the Coelacanth is a true living fossil. But he's not an apex predator. An average great white shark (weighing about 1 ton) needs about 30kg of meat to sustain itself for a period of 12-15 days. That is 2,5kg per day. http://news.discovery.com/animals/sharks/great-white-sharks-eat-more-130321.htm The estimation of what the average Megalodon would have been suggests that it was 17m Long and weighed a whopping 50 ... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by keithisco 10 years ago
sure, the Coelacanth is a true living fossil. But he's not an apex predator. An average great white shark (weighing about 1 ton) needs about 30kg of meat to sustain itself for a period of 12-15 days. That is 2,5kg per day. http://news.discover...more-130321.htm The estimation of what the average Megalodon would have been suggests that it was 17m Long and weighed a whopping 50 tons! So that would mean that a single, average Megalodon would have to eat 125kg of meat/fish PER DAY. That's quite a lot, even if there'd be only a small Population left. I think we'd see a lot less predatory sealife th... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by Kashora 10 years ago
Last year I was researching Megalodon and read that the rise of orcas killed them off. Had the article saved and now for the life of me I can't find it. I still entertain the idea of him existing out there. It's more of a fantasy, obviously, but it's fun to think that maybe he didn't go extinct, he just evolved into something else. Yes, I know, science and stuff. Edit: I can't get the numbers to go away! What the heck! I can't correct my mistakes at all. Oh this tablet really doesn't like me. Sorry everyone!
Comment icon #19 Posted by Ogbin 10 years ago
Edit: I can't get the numbers to go away! What the heck! I can't correct my mistakes at all. Oh this tablet really doesn't like me. Off topic i know.. I also have similar and other problems when it comes to posting with my tablet, it is quite frustrating. When you pay $300 for something, you expect it to work properly. Try putting the curser in front of the number/word that won't delete and pushing it one space forward and then try to delete it, works for me, maybe it will work for you.(I'm crossing my fingers for ya, goodluck)
Comment icon #20 Posted by Jacques Terreur 10 years ago
Sperm whales are known to frequent the Abyssal Plains in search of their staple food, and if Megalodon was preying on Sperm Whales then it suggests that they also had the ability to "deep dive". that's a bit like "some guy sees a bat at dusk - bats are nocturnal - therefore humans are nocturnal, too", innit?
Comment icon #21 Posted by maximusnow 10 years ago
Ok seriously! I have seen it, I am not joking, this is the one thing I can say I witnessed. I was on the USS WASP, marine corp aviation unit when I saw the thing off the back watch deck. Long story but 20 plus people witnessed it. It was 1993 of the coast of somolia. I have had 20 years of second guessing or mis-identification research and will claim, i saw a great white larger than a grey hound bus. I put a fishing lure up near its right eye to make sure i was correct in its size as 80 feet off the water can play with the mind.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Kashora 10 years ago
Off topic i know.. I also have similar and other problems when it comes to posting with my tablet, it is quite frustrating. When you pay $300 for something, you expect it to work properly. Try putting the curser in front of the number/word that won't delete and pushing it one space forward and then try to delete it, works for me, maybe it will work for you.(I'm crossing my fingers for ya, goodluck) thanks Ogbin!! I'll try that
Comment icon #23 Posted by Atuke 10 years ago
I'm still amazed at how big a Meg could be. I have a tooth I aquired for my collection that's as big as my hand. The same tooth from a 18ft Great White is the size of a 50 cent piece. How insanely massive were these things and what the hell did they prey on? I know the answers but it's got to be one of the craziest an scariest creatures nature has ever created. Think about it..
Comment icon #24 Posted by SolarPlexus 10 years ago
I'm glad they are extinct. There were worse things than Megalodon Death by Mega wouldn't be as long or painful, despite the awe inspiring size I know the answers but it's got to be one of the craziest an scariest creatures nature has ever created. Check out my megafauna topic
Comment icon #25 Posted by SolarPlexus 10 years ago
. Had around 5 seconds to do this xD ...... that's a smaller specimen btw !


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