The reasons for their extinction are a mystery, but a group of scientists has come up with a new theory.
The megalodonthe largest shark that ever lived, may have become extinct after a fight for food against the great white shark, one of the fiercest aquatic predators.
This conclusion emerges from an analysis of dental fossils from the ocean giant that was published in the journal Nature Communications, and that it was elaborated by researchers from several countries.
Experts have said that environmental pressures, such as changes in sea level, also played a role in the disappearance of this species three million years ago.
In the most recent research, zinc isotopes were used to study the teeth of both living sharks and the fossils of extinct ones. This tool helped to understand the diet of animals.
Chemical clues in the teeth of living sharks and the 13 fossil megalodon teeth suggest that both once had similar positions in the food chain and they may have competed for the same prey, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises.
“This is one piece of the evidence puzzle for the fact that there was competition between the modern great white shark and the megalodon for aquatic food resources at a time when both were still alive,” he said. Thomas Tutkenstudy director and professor at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany.
However, this theory is not definitive, commented Catalina Pepperwho works at Swansea University in the UK and also contributed to the publication.
The extinction of this animal, he continued, has been studied from many angles during the last decade and there are various conclusions that point to more than one factor.
“The mystery of what the megalodon ate and to what extent it competed with other sharks remains,” he said.
The megalodon (Otodus megalodon) was a megatoothed shark that roamed the oceans about 22 million years ago, until it disappeared three million years ago. His name means “big tooth”.
It was three times the size of the great white shark. It could be up to 18 meters long and weigh up to 60 tons.
In early May, a six-year-old boy found a tooth from a prehistoric megalodon in Suffolk, UK, bringing the species back into the news.
Little Sammy Shelton found a 10cm long tooth on Bawdsey beach while on vacation.
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