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Palaeontology

Was megalodon wiped out by a supernova ?

December 14, 2018 | Comment icon 23 comments



Did a supernova wipe out the world's largest shark ? Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Karen Carr
A new study has suggested that the world's largest ever shark may have been wiped out by an exploding star.
Measuring up to 60ft in length, this prehistoric behemoth, which lived up until around 2.6 million years ago, made the great white shark - which is less than a third of its size - look like a minnow.

For 20 million years this gargantuan predator dominated the world's oceans, but then something happened that had such a catastrophic effect on the species that it ended up going extinct.

Now in a new study, scientists have linked the energetic demise of a nearby star to the extinction of not only megalodon, but of up to 36 percent of all the Earth's marine megafauna.

Key to this catastrophe was the bombardment of our planet by deadly cosmic rays which would have had a particularly devastating impact on large animals.
"We estimated the cancer rate would go up about 50 percent for something the size of a human - and the bigger you are, the worse it is," said lead author Adrian Mellot.

"For an elephant or a whale, the radiation dose goes way up."

By studying how different species and habitats would have been impacted by such an event, Mellot and colleagues concluded that it was "reasonable to hypothesize that this increase in radiation load may have contributed to a newly documented marine megafaunal extinction at that time,"

This event would have almost certainly brought about the demise of megalodon as well.

"They just disappeared about that time," said Mellot.

Source: Newsweek | Comments (23)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #14 Posted by Jaded1 3 years ago
I don't normally comment but you surely are on some kind of hard drug.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Amanda Evans 3 years ago
But was it wiped out? † runs away giggling...
Comment icon #16 Posted by pbarosso 3 years ago
how does radiation penetrate the ocean depths?
Comment icon #17 Posted by Avalanche 3 years ago
More or less the lack of food that killed a large predator as such.
Comment icon #18 Posted by Ell 3 years ago
The Pliocene-Pleistocene Boundary By Richard Foster Flint Doi: https://doi.org/10.1130/SPE84-p497 Published: January 01, 1965 † Maybe the amount of heat produced by either the Sun or Earth was affected by an effect of a star going supernova. Or maybe not. † In my opinion, though, the extinction event was a direct consequence of cold, not of a higher incidence of cancer - which latter I consider to be a ridiculous idea.
Comment icon #19 Posted by RoofGardener 3 years ago
Hmm.... I'm really not convinced. A radiation blast of that magnitude would have had a devastating effect on land mammals... and possibly even plants. There would have been many other signs of such a catastrophe. But - so far as I am aware - no such signs have been detected ?†
Comment icon #20 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
Interesting. I'd never thought that larger creatures would be more susceptible to radiation...But it makes sense now that I think about it. It also makes cheesy 50's and 60's sci-fi where radiation makes things bigger even more ironic and funny.
Comment icon #21 Posted by cyclopes500 3 years ago
Its a double edged sword. On one side you've got the cancer causing effects. On the other it also causes mutations which are the driving force of evolution. Even more when a mutant retro virus gets jammed in egg and sperm DNA. Also where that virus came from there are others. Billions of them all being sniffed up by the same spieces of animals. They all get trapped in the right place in their dna and in one breeding season a new species is born. One with enough genetic variation from the different parents already to boost its survival chances.
Comment icon #22 Posted by MindfulInquirer 3 years ago
huh... that, I wouldn't have thought of. Either way that thing was a monster. It probably could've eaten Chthulu.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Sameerr 3 years ago
And for that film 'The Meg', i didn't really much felt like seeing a Megalodon movie. Jason Statham is a good hero but the movie didn't seemed much interesting. It's a known thing that in movies, the large animals gets exaggerated. The Megalodon is 75 ft in the film and perhaps they killed 2 big megalodon easily made me lose some interest and i thought the music which played after the movie ended was not suitable for a thriller movie. I think someone should make a good movie or documentary for Megalodon.I would say that the film about white sperm whale,"In the heart of the sea" is better than ... [More]


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