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Could Megalodon Shark Still Be Alive?

megalodon still alive

Megalodon is the biggest prehistoric shark that  lived approximately 23 to 2,6 million years ago, during Cenozoic era. Regarded as one of the largest and the most powerful marine predator in the history of the planet Megalodon (meaning ‘big tooth’ from ancient Greek) went extinct an estimated 1,6 million years ago. But some people believe that it might still exist and hides in the ocean. As an argument this theory followers claim we have only explored a tiny portion of our ocean and there is possibility that Megalodons are still lurking around somewhere deep bellow the oceans’ surface.

Recent findings are shedding light on the most debated shark in history.

Scientists suggest that Megalodon looked like a stockier version of the great white shark was far more aggressive in its attack. Megalodon specialized in eating whales and other large sea creatures. Over the years, many fossilized whalebones have been found with signs of bite marks from teeth that match Megalodon’s massive choppers, which could grow over 7 inches in length. The most common fossils of Megalodon are its teeth, which are the largest of any known shark species.

megalodonMegalodon (gray and red) with the whale shark (violet), great white shark (green), and a human (black) for scale. Image credit:Wikipedia

Megalodon teeth have been discovered all over the world and continue to be found to this day. In February 2016, a man from Suffolk, Va., found more than 80 Megalodon teeth in a local river in just one day!

In total, Megalodon teeth have been found as far south as Australia and New Zealand and as far north as England and Denmark. Locations as diverse as Japan, India and Croatia have all been home to Megalodon teeth. This suggests that Megalodon was a truly global shark, living in most of the world’s oceans.

megalodon_tooth_with_great_white_sharks_teeth-3-2-1Megalodon tooth with two great white shark teeth/Image credit: Wikipedia

Evidence suggests the obvious; this prehistoric shark ate whales and other cetacea for breakfast! It’s fossils are almost always found in areas associated with fossil whale bone. In the late 1900s, paleontologist Dr. Bretton Kent examined the remains of a 30-foot-long prehistoric baleen whale that was attacked by a Megalodon, discovering that the “monster shark” was extremely aggressive. When it wasn’t chowing down on whales, Megalodon also fed on seals, sea lions, giant sea turtles, sea cows, dolphins, porpoises, and other large creatures before going extinct.

Despite the global nature of the Megalodon fossils, evidence suggests that Megalodon preferred warmer, coastal waters. Its inability to adapt to the cooling waters at the start of the Ice Age may have even contributed to its demise. While experts aren’t certain of the cause of Megalodon’s extinction, they unanimously agree that this prehistoric mega-shark is no longer around. Scientists have several theories to explain why Megalodon went extinct. One of them is that warm seas dried up and Megalodon disappeared, another suggests that megashark was either starved or frozen into extinction.

megalodon jawsThis giant prehistoric shark jaw comes from the largest predator ever to have existed on Earth. Reconstruction by Bashford Dean in 1909. Image credit:Wikipedia

However, alleged Megalodon shark sightings over the years have led to the legend of a massive, prehistoric shark that still patrols the oceans of our world.

There are a few of well-documented pieces of evidence and testimony that suggest Megalodon is still alive. Among more well-known stories are:

Huge Teeth Found by HMS Challenger: In 1875, two Megalodon teeth were dredged up during a deep-sea expedition by the HMS Challenger, dated only 10,000 – 15,000 years old. If the methods used were accurate, this would mean it went extinct much more recently than previously believed, and make it a contemporary of modern humans. Ten thousand years is only a blink of an eye in the world of paleontology. It does not take a great imagination to think the Megalodon shark may have survived the past 10,000 years undetected in the depths of the oceans.

 Massive Shark Threatens 55-Foot Fishing Boat: In the 1960s, the captain of a 55-foot fishing ship reported that a white shark at least as long as the boat passed by while they sat at anchor. The crew refused to officially discuss the sighting, but the Captain gave his account. An experienced sailor, the Captain would have been able to recognize a whale if that is what it had been, but he claimed it was indeed a giant shark. Are stories such as this one based on real encounters, or are they just products of the imaginations of sailors who have been at sea too long?

megalodonSwiss naturalist Louis Agassiz gave the shark its initial scientific name, Carcharodon megalodon, in 1835

The idea of a living Megalodon has generated some interesting novels and movies and of course caught attention of shark enthusiasts, both amateur and professional.

In 2013, shark fans were angered after “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” aired during Shark Week. The show, which became Discovery Channel’s most-watched Shark Week special in history, was about the possibility that the giant Megalodon shark was still alive. After it was revealed that the “scientists” in the show were really actors and the events in the documentary were scripted, fans lashed out at Discovery. Despite the backlash, Shark Week 2014 included a sequel, “Megalodon: The New Evidence.” However, the public had caught on by this point, and the same people who were blown away a year earlier were now bent on finding facts.

All of these Megalodon sightings and intriguing stories are fascinating, but are they really enough to suggest that this giant shark is still alive? Science says No, non of the evidences supporting the possibility of Megalodon’s existence were approved. However, the amount of unexplored ocean is far greater than 95% and it is deserving of study.

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