Megalodon

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The megalodon is an extinct species of shark that lived roughly about 25 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era. The taxonomic assignment of C. megalodon has been debated for nearly a century, and is still under dispute with two major interpretations; Carcharodon megalodon or Carcharocles megalodon. Consequently, scientific name of this species has been commonly abbreviated to C. megalodon in literature. C. megalodon is regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history. According to Renaissance accounts, gigantic, triangular fossil teeth often found embedded in rocky formations were once believed to be petrified tongues, or glossopetrae, of the dragons and snakes. This interpretation was corrected in 1667 by a Danish naturalist, Nicolaus Steno, who recognized them as ancient shark teeth. The fossils of C. megalodon have been excavated from many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, South America, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Africa, Malta, Grenadines, and India. Among extant species, the great white shark is regarded as the best analogue to C. megalodon. The lack of well preserved fossil skeletons of C. megalodon have forced scientists to rely on the morphology of the great white shark for the basis of its reconstruction and size estimation. the 1990s, some marine biologists claimed that C. megalodon may have approached a maximum of around 79-82 ft in total length. The early total length estimation of C. megalodon is perhaps not far fetched. At present, general consensus among scientists regarding maximum size of C. megalodon, on the basis of largest available fossils, is that the largest specimens were around 56-67 ft in total length. Consequently, C. megalodon is regarded as the largest shark to have ever lived, and is among the largest fish known to have existed. In 2008, a team of scientists led by Stephen Wroe conducted an experiment to determine the bite force of C. megalodon; results indicate that it had one of the most powerful bites in history. At 52 ft long, C. megalodon was capable of exerting a bite force estimated at 108,514 newtons (N) or 24,000 pound-force, and at 67 ft long, C. megalodon was capable of exerting a bite force estimated at 182,201 newtons (N) or 41,000 pound-force. Through thorough scrutiny of the partially preserved vertebral C. megalodon specimen from Belgium, it became apparent that C. megalodon had a higher vertebral count than found in large specimens of any known shark. Only the vertebral count in great white shark came close in quantity, symbolizing close anatomical ties between the two species. On the basis of the characteristics mentioned above, Gottfried and his colleagues eventually managed to reconstruct the entire skeleton of C. megalodon, which has been put on display in Calvert Marine Museum at Solomons island, Maryland in USA. This C. megalodon skeletal reconstruction is 38 ft long and represents a young individual. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]





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