The giant prehistoric shark was too hot to avoid extinction


New research suggests the mega lodon·s body temperature may have played a part in its demise. A giant prehistoric predator that still fuels nightmares and fascinates scientists today, this massive Jls h could grow to up to 21 meters long, and it too l< down prey with a terrifying in g mouthful l of teeth measuring up to tB centimeters.

Fearsome though this giant hunter was. it disapp eared from the oceans about 2.6 million years ago. Scientists have now turned to the body temperature of Otodus megalodon to offer an explanation as to why it died out.

megalodon is thought to have been able to thermoregulate (adjust) its body temperature in response to cooler or warmer water, enabling it to hunt In a broad range of habitats. But was megalodon’s body temperature similar to that of modem sharks? To find out. scientists used geochemistry to examine rare carbon and oxygen Isotopes in megalodon teeth and in the teeth of modern sharks. These isotopes form different bonds depending on the animal’s temperature when teeth form, researcher Michael Griffiths, an associate professor in the Department of Environmental 1 Science at Will lam Paterson University in New Jersey, told L.lve Science.

With this method, scientists could estimate what the ancient beast’s average body

“It could grow up to 21 meters long and took down prey with 18 -centimetre teeth “

the temperature may have been and thereby find clues that might explain how megalodon’s biology or habits doomed it to extinction. Prel lm I nary resu It s suggested that megalodon was •quite warm· for a shark. Griffiths said. A ancestors of today’s m a kos and great white shal<s that swam alongside megalodons m Ill ions of years ago 1ikely had a body temperature of about 20 to 30 degrees Celsius. By compa rison, megalodons may have been running a body temperature as high as 35 to 40 f degrees Celsius, the body temperature of whales.

This means the megalodon must have had a ~ very active metabolism that required frequent 1_ feeding. When the climate warmed the megaLondon’s prey moved to cooler waters at higher latitudes. food scarcity and competition ~ from new predators may have combined to drive f the megalodon to extinction, Griffiths explained.

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