Any one with half a brain knows that the scariest place in the world is the ocean. That’s why here at El Fresco, every Saturday is Sea Monster Saturday! Over the last four hundred million years, there have been a whole bunch of big and nasty things coming out of the sea. And today’s is no exception!
Say what you will about Hollywood, but they got this one right: sharks are freaking scary. Great Whites are like this nasty fish out of hell, all teeth and blood and pitch black eyes. Even the massive Basking Shark and Whale Shark, which are completely harmless to humans- let’s face it, they’re kind of freaky.
But what if there were a shark like the great white… only with the proportions of a whale shark? Make it so, monkey paw, make it so.
Whoa! No, that’s not photoshopped, that’s for real. Behold the mouth of the largest known carnivorous fish ever, Carcharocles megalodon! Growing to an estimated size of 60 feet long, and weighing some 70 metric tons, this fish was the biggest, meanest, nastiest badass in the ocean. What’s more, Megalodon was the apex predator of the entire ocean for some 17 million years.
This fish ate anything it wanted. Its teeth were serrated, and bite marks from C. megalodon have been found on the remains of every thing from sperm whales to seals. Not only was this shark beyond huge, but there’s evidence that C. megalodon was even more vicious in it’s attacks than modern white sharks. It would attack the flippers and lower vertebrae of whales first, making it impossible for them to swim away to safety.
Here’s something to put things in perspective. Below, we have a tooth of C. megalodon, a tooth of Carcharodontosaurs, a predatory dinosaur the size of T-Rex, and a standard US quarter.
Thank god for global cooling, though. It appears that C. megalodon went extinct roughly 1.5 million years ago, thanks in large part to the glaciation of the planet during the late Pliocene and Pleistocene epochs. Megalodon lived and hunted in warm waters, which meant as the sea level got lower and world temperatures cooled, there were less and less waters to feed in.
On top of that, whales frankly evolved better. The species of whales that survived during these climates changed their migratory patterns, and moved to polar regions, effectively moving away from where the massive shark could prey upon them. Megalodon’s food supply was dried up, and the scariest animal on the planet starved itself to extinction. With the exception of humans, massive whales haven’t been preyed upon since.
All that being said, C. megalodon was clearly a monster for the ages. Now, all we need is a time machine, and we can really make Steven Spielberg wet his pants…