Megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago

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A new University of Florida study dismisses claims that megalodon is still alive by determining a date of extinction for the biggest predatory shark to ever live.

Megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago
Artistic impression of a megalodon pursuing two Eobalaenoptera whales
[Credit: Karen Carr/WikiCommons]

Researchers from UF and the University of Zurich hope the study appearing on-line now in the journal PLOS ONE displaying the species became extinct two.6 million years ago will clarify public confusion. The study might also a single day support scientists far better have an understanding of the potential widespread effects of losing the planet’s top predators, stated lead author Catalina Pimiento.

“I was drawn to the study of Carcharocles megalodon’s extinction for the reason that it is basic to know when species became extinct to then commence to recognize the causes and consequences of such an occasion,” stated Pimiento, a doctoral candidate at the Florida Museum of All-natural History on the UF campus. “I also feel individuals who are interested in this animal deserve to know what the scientific evidence shows, specifically following Discovery Channel specials that implied megalodon may possibly still be alive.”

The study represents the initial phase of Pimiento’s ongoing reconstruction of megalodon’s extinction. As contemporary top predators, particularly significant sharks, are significantly declining worldwide due to the present biodiversity crisis, Pimiento said this study serves as the basis to improved comprehend the consequences of these changes.

“When you remove huge sharks, then smaller sharks are incredibly abundant and they consume far more of the invertebrates that we humans consume,” Pimiento mentioned. “Recent estimations show that significant-bodied, shallow-water species of sharks are at greatest threat among marine animals, and the overall risk of shark extinction is substantially greater than for most other vertebrates.”

Megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago
University of Florida doctoral candidate Catalina Pimiento, pictured here measuring 
a megalodon shark tooth at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama,
 is lead author of a PLOS ONE study appearing online today (Oct. 22, 2014) establishing
 megalodon became extinct 2.6 million years ago [Credit: Jeff Gage]

Pimiento plans to further investigate attainable correlations among changes in megalodon’s distribution and the evolutionary trends of marine mammals, such as whales and other sharks.

“When we calculated the time of megalodon’s extinction, we noticed that the modern function and gigantic sizes of filter feeder whales became established around that time,” Pimiento said. “Future investigation will investigate if megalodon’s extinction played a part in the evolution of these new classes of whales.”

The slowly unraveling facts of megalodon’s extinction and various aspects of its all-natural history have consumed Pimiento’s research for the past six years, such as ongoing evaluation of megalodon’s body size and a 2010 PLOS ONE study that proposed Panama served as a nursery habitat for the species.

For the new study, researchers used databases and scientific literature of the most recent megalodon records and calculated the extinction applying a novel mathematical model established trustworthy in recent experimental testing by study co-author Christopher F. Clements with the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Research at the University of Zurich.

Vertebrate paleontologist Jorge Velez-Juarbe with the All-natural History Museum of Los Angeles County mentioned the study will not only serve as a essential reference for debunking the myth that megalodon nonetheless exists, but its novel approaches will influence the future of scientific analysis of extinct animals and plants.

“The methodology that the authors utilised had only been previously employed to establish extinction dates in historical times, such as to estimate the extinction date of the dodo bird,” Velez-Juarbe mentioned. “In this perform, scientists applied that identical methodology to figure out the extinction of an organism millions of years ago, instead of hundreds. It is a new tool that paleo biologists did not have, or rather had not believed of using before.”

Author: Stephenie Livingston | Source: University of Florida [October 23, 2014]