The megalodon might have been the most significant marine predator that has ever lived on Earth, reaching 60 feet in size with teeth about the length of a standard paper sheet. But more surprisingly, a new study hints that it did give in to a foe that led it to extinction.
According to a new study released at Monday’s annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the researchers revealed that the body temperature of the giant shark might have been the cause of its extinction. That result was a shock to the scientists because today’s sharks can self-regulate their own body heat and adjust to their natural environment.
“Although still preliminary, these results may provide clues as to what may have led to O. megalodon’s death during the Pliocene. For example, one hypothesis is that O. megalodon consumed large amounts of prey to maintain such high body temperature,” reads the study’s report.
Megalodon Became Extinct Due To Its Own Size
“However, cooling ocean temperatures during the Pliocene would have limited the species to lower latitudes where ocean temperatures were warmer, while its preferred prey (e.g., whales) developed traits to adapt to colder temperatures at higher latitudes. Therefore, major climate changes combined with evolutionary constraints may provide the ‘smoking gun’ for the extinction of the largest shark species roaming the planet,” researchers said.
Researcher Michael Griffiths, one of the authors of the study, stated for Live Science that the megalodons might have had body temperatures as high as 95 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition to that, megalodons were reaching 120,000 pounds or 60 tons, which caused their extinction during ocean warming periods.
“There is little coincidence as to the primary cause of O. megalodon’s disappearance,” said the scientists who added that “either lack of food or environmental change influenced megalodon extinction.”
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.