Megalodon Became Extinct 2.6 Million Years Ago
Carcharocles megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived on Earth, became extinct approximately 2.6 million years ago, according to a new analysis of its fossil record. The species lasted about 14 million years. The fate of the Megalodon has been in the press recently due to the popularity of the Discover Channels Shark Week. In 2013 and again in 2014, the Discovery Channel broadcast supposed "documentaries" giving examples that the largest shark was still alive. Scientist have been up in arms about the programs, as many scientists had edited interview shown that make it appear that the scientist believed the sharks still exists. The show interviewed "scientist" who were actually actors and actresses.While the sharks are no longer around, many of their teeth are found fossilized.Muck divers off the coast of Venice Florida frequently dive for fossiles and have a special target, Megalodon teeth. The Megalodon shark lived 2.5 million to 16.5 million years ago. While fossilize teeth of extinct sharks are found in many waters, those of the Megalodon are harder to find. Most marine predators of prehistoric times were only along the coastlines or inland rivers and lakes of certain continents. Megalodon had a global range, feeding on whales in warm-water oceans across the world. Their enormous size kept them from coming in to close to shore. A size that is estimated at 60 feet and weighting as much as 100 tons. A mouth that was six feet wide and that could open to six feet had a bite that exerted over 10 tones of pressure. The extinction of their main food source is thought to be the cause of the Megalodon's demise.Although fossil shark teeth can be found in many locations across all of North America, Florida, and in particular the waters off Venice, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, is an ideal location to find these fossils. The first primitive sharks are said to have appeared about 400 million years ago. Their first modern cousins emerged about 100 million years ago. The Florida peninsula is only about65 million years old. Before then it was a submerged landmass. Florida was just a shallow body of sediments from the sea in the beginning but it eventually grew into the finger of land. Early Florida was periodically submerged and exposed as the water levels rose and fell with the freezing and thawing of ice caps. Florida stabilized about 2 million years ago to something similar to what we know now. The Floridan peninsula's highest elevation is about 300 feet above sea level. Most of Florida is only a few tens of feet above sea level. When the spine of Florida rose from the sea, the waters of present day Gulf of Mexico were very shallow. These waters were home to large populations of fish and sharks, including the famed Megalodon Shark. As these marine creatures died, they were quickly covered with sediment, perfect conditions for fossilization. Large land animals were often washed to sea and similarly buried. The fossilized remains of these organisms are concentrated in the waters off both coasts of the state. However, since the waters of the Gulf of Mexico tend to stay shallow for great distances, it is easier to search for these fossils on that side of the state. The area south of Tampa towards Venice, because of a unique confluence of rivers and streams, is the epicenter of these fossil beds.