, the megalodon shark roamed the oceans, scaring and chewing everything to pieces, long after the dinosaurs were wiped out by the great meteorite.
We know that it was the largest and most brutal predator that ever lived, as well as the biggest shark.
It was the king of all seas, swimming freely between most parts of the ocean.
But then, , about two and a half million years ago, the last of its kind disappeared from earth forever, leaving only their huge teeth to be found by modern archaeologists.
At first, scientists thought it was a mass marine extinction that happened around the time that caused the megalodon to expire.
They believe a supernova exploded some 150 light years from earth, and its radiation reached our planet, changing its climate.
Well, this could have happened.
When a star explodes, it gives off so much energy that it goes for hundreds and even thousands of light years in all directions.
If some of that heat struck our planet, it could have warmed it up, making life impossible for lots of animal species, including the Megalodon.
But then, in 2019, , a group of researchers found something weird.
The fossils left over from the monster sharks dated back to an earlier period.
That could mean they went extinct before the supernova.
A new explanation had to be devised, and it came from an unexpected source: the great white sharks at the peak of their evolutionary career.
The megalodons were apex predators, meaning they had no rivals among the other ocean hunters.
Their favorite prey were whales and other marine mammals, and they could even hunt down smaller sharks.
Not only were they huge, reaching over 60 feet in length and 50 tons in weight, but they also had the strongest bite in the world.
Nothing that had a fight with a meg could go away unscathed.
An important note.
Most of what we know about the Megalodon comes from their teeth, because they were the only bony remains left after their extinction.
Sharks are mostly cartilage, so they have little bone in their skeleton.
Lots of cartilage makes them agile and flexible, as well as allows them to open their mouth to enormous width.
At some point, sharks also develop protruding jaws to have a better grip on their prey, something most obvious in the modern goblin shark.
Their teeth, however, had to be tougher than cartilage, so they evolved into a sort of tooth factory.
Sharks have rows upon rows of pointy, sharp teeth, usually directed inwards like hooks, which get worn out pretty quickly.
Then, when no longer needed, they fall off, making way for new ones.
A single shark can replace all the teeth in its jaws as many as 50 times in its lifetime.
Now, , the Megalodon is usually described as a sort of gigantic version of a great white shark.
This is a common mistake, though, made because they were thought to be related.
In fact, the Meg looked more like a modern bull shark.
It had a short snout, a flat lower jaw and long and massive pectoral fins that supported its weight.
And, what’s more important, the ancestors of today’s great whites existed at the same time as the Megalodon.
With great size comes great clumsiness, though.
Although the mag was huge and powerful, it was also not as nimble as the smaller and quicker great white sharks.
Researchers believe that great whites actually rivaled with the megalodon for food and were often more successful hunters thanks to their agility.
They couldn’t fight the Meg openly, but were fast enough to get the prey the Meg had marked for itself and steal it.
And still, this doesn’t exactly explain why the meigs went extinct.
Great whites might have hunted down smaller prey, but they couldn’t fell a whale, the favorite food of megalodons.
Another fact contradicting this theory is that a single species probably couldn’t lead to the extinction of another.
There should have been others to help.
A new theory arose that said not only great whites but also tiger, sharks and Makos took part in the fate of the Megalodon.
Both of these species were, and still remain, even smaller than great whites, but they were efficient hunters as well.
They were fast and ferocious, leaving the big and clumsy mag without much food in the oceans.
When the monster shark tried to take away the prey from its smaller rivals, they simply scattered, unwilling to pick a fight with the bully.
And so it happened that the only food left for the Megalodon were whales and equally big marine animals.
Adult megs could easily hunt down such beasts, but their offspring were much smaller and more vulnerable than their parents.
Scientists believe other sharks could have used this to their advantage.
While the Megalodon was still little, it often became prey for great whites, bulls and tiger sharks.
Even then, a great white shark could reach the length of 18 feet, while a megalodon kid was typically twice smaller.
Sometimes they could have fought off other predators, but certainly not always.
But even if there was no open confrontation between young megalodons and smaller adult sharks, Meg kids wouldn’t have been able to find food for themselves to grow to adulthood.
The reason is the same: the population of other sharks was growing, and they were rivaling with each other and the megs for convenient prey.
The more there were great whites and the rest, the less food remained for the young monster sharks.
Eventually, they would have simply starved.
As if this wasn’t enough for the Megalodon to cease to exist, their favorite big munch, the whales, began to adapt to changing conditions on earth.
The mag was a warm, loving shark, and it was abundant in tropical and subtropical waters.
When they first evolved about 20 million years ago, the climate on the planet was much milder.
Both land and seas were generally warmer, and so the Meg could swim wherever it pleased.
It coursed the waters of both south and North Atlantic, as well as the Pacific, and its teeth were found even in the modern day Deserts of Africa.
As the years went by, the climate went on changing, though.
It became extremely cold closer to the poles, and lots of marine animals and fish had to adapt to this temperature shift.
The Megalodon, however, didn’t go with the flow.
It still loved warm waters, so it stayed where it felt comfortable, its area of presence shrinking.
What it didn’t realize was that the whales were among those who became cool.
With the cool, the big mammals went further and further north, enjoying the light, chill and sudden freedom from their only predators.
The Megalodon didn’t follow.
Also, about three million years ago, the planet entered a climactic cycle roughly similar to what we have today.
The glaciers in the north went as far down as North America in winter and slid back in summer.
Krill, the favorite food of Bolin Whales, boomed in colony growth in the coastal areas.
The whales got the hint and moved to where the prey was most abundant, leaving their previous dwelling areas behind.
This allowed them to grow in size as they could feed undisturbed as much as they wanted.
In the meantime, there were vast regions absolutely devoid of any food between the coasts, and so it happened that the enormous predator, the Megalodon, was left to its gloomy fate.
Its main dish had gone to colder waters, and the smaller prey was devoured by its nimbler and less hungry rivals.
The numbers of these great hunters of the sea were dwindling fast until none remained to rule the waters, and that’s how, eventually, the great white sharks became the most fearsome predators in the ocean.