Anything it wants to!!! Sorry,
Just as giant Megalodon teeth have
been found, so have the remains of creatures that might have made tasty meals
for the shark - large whales. Most of the big whales swimming the seas today
existed at the same time as Megalodon and bones from these whales have been
found with bite marks from large serrated teeth such as those possessed by a
certain 50-foot shark we're discussing here. In addition, Megalodon fossils
are found in the same areas known to have been frequented by the large whales.
This indicates a link between the predator and its prey.
Luckily for us wee humans who only
average about 1 meter if we drink our milk every day, the 17-meter C.
megalodon is thought to have been extinct since the end of the Pliocene
Epoch. This means, for those of you like me who wouldn't know the difference
between the Pliocene Epoch and a New York Minute, that C. megalodon
died out a couple of million years ago, give or take a couple of hundred
centuries or so. John Clay Bruner states in an article widely found on the
Internet (see my Links section) that it is documented that young GWs have a
limited tolerance for seawater temperature, kind of a Goldilocks preference
for water that is 'not too hot and not too cold'. This would restrict where in
the ocean we would find these animals. He goes on to speculate that it is
possible that the great whales that Megalodon preyed upon migrated to cooler
waters where the sharks could not follow.
If you do a search on
Altavista for Megalodon and pick a link at random, you're going to
come across one of two types of sites - a site selling Megalodon teeth
or a site that has articles about whether or not the great fish still
lurks in the deep.
The logic goes like this.
Sperm whales are the largest predators ever produced by nature,
assuming that Megalodon "only" grew to 50 feet or so.
They've got enough food to survive down in the ocean depths. Who is to
say that there isn't enough food to keep a population of super sharks
in healthy condition? In other words, there doesn't seem to be a good
reason for Megalodon to have died out.
Another fish often cited
when discussing the extinction of Megalodon is the coelacanth. In
December of 1938, the zoological discovery of the century was made
when a fishing boat caught a strange fish off the coast of Madagascar
. Marjorie Courtenay Latimer, curator of a local museum, was visiting
the fish market where she saw and purchased the strange animal. She
made a sketch of the animal and sent it to Dr. J. L. B. Smith, an
expert on fishes. On seeing the sketch, Dr. Smith is believed to have
said, "I would not have been more surprised if I had seen a
dinosaur walking down the street!" The species was named by Smith
as Latimeria, after the curator who spotted it.
Now, the existence of the
coelacanth is certainly not evidence towards a big Megalodon happily
swimming along somewhere in the briny blue but it does offer a
living example of another fish thought to be long gone from the
face of the Earth.
So if you feel a burning need to
make the zoological discovery of the next century, grab a boat, some
bait, and a really big fishing pole - C. megalodon may be waiting
Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland is home to this excellent
restoration of the skeleton of a Megalodon. Pretty cool, huh?