The king of the Earth’s ocean measured more than 60 feet long. Why Megalodon sharks went extinct is still not known. But, researchers can now put a date on when they went extinct.
Researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Zurich examined dozens of Megalodon fossils and believe the massive sharks went extinct about 2.6 million years ago.
“Our analysis suggests that the extinction of Carcharocles megalodon most likely occurred around Pliocene–Pleistocene boundary. Interestingly, subsequent to this time and throughout the Pleistocene, baleen whales reached modern gigantic sizes,” reads the study.
This date coincides with the transition to bigger baleen whales. Megalodons, a precursor to today’s great white shark, may have kept these whales in check. While there’s no iron-clad evidence they fed on these whales, Megalodon teeth were often found amid baleen whale fossils. Sounds like whale was on the shark’s menu to me.
If Megalodon did feed on these whales, its extinction could be responsible for the subsequent increase in baleen whales’ size.
How did the researchers get the 2.6 million years ago date? They used a technique called Optimal Linear Estimation. Each of the 42 fossils studied were entered into a database with an upper and lower date estimate for when it appeared. The team then ran 10,000 simulations. 6 of them indicate sharknado might just be real (Megalodons living today). Alas, 99.9% of the simulations came back with dates much older. Sorry folks, there’s no massive sharks below the waves.
The Megalodon shark was the definition of an apex predator. Teeth measured nearly 7 inches long and the shark could bite with a force of more than 10 tons. Check out how big its jaw was, and its teeth compared to a Great White Shark’s teeth below.
Image credit: Getty Images