Why Did World’s Largest Shark Become Extinct? Scientists Have An Answer

Posted: Jan 16 2017, 10:24am CST | by , Updated: Jan 16 2017, 10:36am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Why Did World’s Largest Shark become Extinct? Scientists have an Answer
Credit: Alberto Gennari
 

Giant ancient shark Megalodon may have gone extinct after the extinction of its small prey

Megalodon, the largest shark ever known, had dominated the seas millions of years ago. But many years after its extinction researchers are still fascinated by this animal.

Almost 60 feet long Megalodon lived approximately 17 to 2.6 million years ago before suddenly going extInct. But why the shark suddenly disappeared remains a mystery. An international team of researchers suggest that the shark may have gone extinct due to its preference for relatively small prey.

When the small prey disappeared from the seas under climate change, it was naturally replaced by some other species, meaning Megalodon had to look for other eating options which were larger than their usual prey. Megalodon’s inability to tackle the large prey was likely the reason for its demise.

In the new study, researchers analyzed two separate 7-million-year-old mammalian fossils recently uncovered in southern Peru, which belong to a dwarf baleen whale and an early relative of a modern seal. Both had bites on their fossilized bones that researchers believe came from a megalodon and these fossils hint at the preferred meal choices of the world’s largest sharks. When this small whale went extinct, Megalodons faced shortage of food, causing giant sharks to die off.

“The disappearance of the last giant-toothed shark could have been triggered by the decline and fall of several dynasties of small to medium-sized baleen whales in favour of modern, gigantic baleen whales.” Alberto Collareta, a palaeontologist at the University of Pisa in Italy and lead author of the study told New Scientist.

Megalodon’s sudden disappearance is a longstanding mystery that led to a number of explanations in recent years. For instance, a previous research suggests that megalodon got so big over evolutionary time that it was prone to go extinct. But it appears to have a more reasonable cause now.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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