A recent study conducted by University of Florida researchers dismisses the claims that the monstrous Megalodon is still alive by revealing the fact that it became extinct 2.6 million years ago. But, scientists are still unclear why these sharks went extinct.
Fossils of Megalodon have been found in North America, Europe, Africa and South America. Most of them measured about 50 feet in length, with a maximum length being 60 feet. Scientists said the marine animals would never dare crossing Megalodon’s way.
Chris Clements, a research assistant at the University of Zurich, said that they used the Optimal Linear Estimation (OLE) technique to estimate when the shark went extinct. The technique doesn’t provide the exact date of extinction. Instead, it gives “a date by which” a species went extinct.
Catalina Pimiento, lead author of the study stated, “I was pinched to the study of Carcharocles Megalodon’s extinction because it is fundamental to know when species became extinct in order to be aware of the causes and consequences of such an event.”
“This study might also help other scientists to better understand the potential widespread effects of losing the planet’s top predators,” he added.
The first phase of Pimiento’s ongoing reconstruction of megalodon’s extinction is represented in the study. Due to the current biodiversity crisis, the modern top predators, particularly large sharks are significantly declining worldwide. The study acts as a basis to better understand the consequences of these changes, Pimiento added.
“When you confiscate large sharks, then small sharks are very abundant and they consume more of the invertebrates that we humans eat. The findings of the study show that large-bodied, shallow-water species of sharks are at greatest risk among marine animals, and the overall risk of shark extinction is substantially higher than for most other vertebrates,” Pimiento said.
Pimiento is planning to further inspect possible correlations between changes in the Megalodon’s distribution and the evolutionary trends of marine animals including whales and other sharks.
Pimiento said, “When we started measuring the time Megalodon’s time of extinction, we observed that the modern function and gigantic sizes of filter feeder whales became established at that time. Further investigation will be done in order to find out if Megalodon’s extinction played a part in the evolution of these new classes of whales.”
Pimiento consumed almost 6 years to unravel the details of Megalodon’s extinction, including ongoing analysis of Megalodon’s body size. The study reveals that Panama served as a nursery habitat for the species.
Jorge Velez-Juarbe, a paleontologist with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County stated, “The study will not only serve as a key reference for exposing the myth that Megalodon still exists, but its new methods will influence the future of scientific research of extinct animals and plants.
The study has been published in the recent issue of PLOS ONE journal.