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Did megalodon teeth inspire monster myths ?

December 15, 2016 | Comment icon 32 comments

Some sea monsters were very real indeed. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Karen Carr
The teeth of the largest shark in history may have influenced portrayals of a mythological sea monster.
Tales of giant ocean-dwelling creatures have been around for thousands of years, but for one culture - that of the Maya - such stories may have actually been based on a real animal.

In her new paper entitled 'Sharks in the Jungle: real and imagined sea monsters of the Maya', archaeologist Sarah Newman explores how the teeth of megalodon - the largest shark in history - were used as sacred offerings at several ancient Mayan sites.

Their depictions of a creature known as 'Sipak' ( or 'Cipactli' ) predominantly featured a single giant tooth which bears a striking resemblance to the megalodon teeth discovered at these sites.
"Mayan iconography is notoriously difficult to piece out," said Newman. "But you can see [the monster] is a fairly realistic representation of a shark with a bifurcated tail."

"And the tooth has the same mark on it that the Maya used to indicate materials like jade - so it's telling you that it's hard and shiny, the way that a fossil would be also."

Megalodon itself really was a monster of the deep - a 60ft behemoth with teeth 7 inches long.

It ruled the Earth's oceans uncontested for the better part of 23 million years before eventually disappearing around 2.6 million years ago for reasons that are still not completely understood.

Source: Live Science | Comments (32)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #23 Posted by The Narcisse 5 years ago
Comment icon #24 Posted by Thorvir 5 years ago
A baby one.
Comment icon #25 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
I doubt it was a megalodon, unless your many moons ago go back 2.6 million years +.  But it could have been a jelly fish or another beach goer.  
Comment icon #26 Posted by Thorvir 5 years ago
Ugh, two reasons why I don't swim in natural bodies of water.
Comment icon #27 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
They are the safest reasons, now we have this to contend with, little Johnny weeing in the sea does not even get a mention on this  list:   From plastic bags to pesticides - most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through drains and rivers. This includes: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/problems/pollution/
Comment icon #28 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
Well speaking as a shark attack survivor (bitten by a dogfish),  I think that once you've looked into those black eyes, lifeless eyes, like a doll's eyes, it never really leaves you. 
Comment icon #29 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
You are so brave ...did it bite your butt?
Comment icon #30 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
No it, savaged my arm. Nearly tore it off too. I was in intensive care the next day for about a week. 
Comment icon #31 Posted by freetoroam 5 years ago
Jeeze....what kind of dogfish was that.? 
Comment icon #32 Posted by oldrover 5 years ago
A big one, nearly 24 inches. But its attitude.... I should in fairness pint out that it wasn't completely off (my arm), but I was in ITU for a week afterwards, but then I was there the week before too, I work there. But it is literally true, I was bitten by a shark, and was in ITU for a week afterwards. 

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