What Baby Megalodon Sharks And You Probably Have In Common

What’s one thing we have in common with a baby (Megalodon) shark? Growing up in a nursery!

Otodus megalodon, one of the largest marine apex predators ever to exist, has certainly been making the news lately. Once scientifically known as Carcharocles megalodon, this extinct shark was considered to have been a cosmopolitan species that was a force to be reckoned with. But Megalodon doesn’t just pop out measuring over 50 feet (15 m) long! So where does “Mommy Shark” put her baby shark to grow? A shallow, warm-water nursery.

Nurseries are of particular research interest to shark scientists due to their assumed importance in the shark’s life history, with numerous studies defining a nursery and stressing their importance in conservation. Inshore habitats (like mudflats, bays, estuaries, marsh wetlands, mangroves, lagoons, bayous and shallow coral reefs) are frequently used as nurseries, providing a haven for juvenile sharks, with a lower predation risk and shallow, warmer waters that tend to be more productive than deeper regions. Here, juveniles have fast growth rates, and reduced predation risk, while they expand their range within the nursery and better their foraging capabilities. Some Megalodon mommas gave their pups a fighting chance in a newly described middle Miocene locality from Northeastern Spain, as well as in eight previously known formations (Temblor, Calvert, Pisco, Gatún, Chucunaque, Bahía Inglesa, Yorktown and Bone Valley). “Our results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by the O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales,” said the authors of the new study.

We can thank teeth for our knowledge on these sharks. Cartilage doesn’t preserve as well as bones, so the most older shark fossil records are based on isolated scales and teeth. In fact, shark teeth are among the most commonly found fossils around the world, since they are continually shed by sharks. After a trip to a museum to look at Megalodon teeth, the authors noted that the teeth were quite small for such a famously large animal. The researchers inferred the body lengths of the individuals from dental parameters and found they belong to young pups. A nursery! This new Spanish nursery would have been a “shallow bay area of warm waters, connected to the sea and with extensive coral reefs and plenty of invertebrates, fish species, marine mammals and

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Megalodon fossils discovered all over the world

Megalodons, the apex predator of the seas, may have gone extinct more than 3.5 million years ago, but experts may have discovered nurseries of the massive shark all around the world, according to a new study.

The research, published in Biology Letters, notes that nurseries of the megalodon have been found in northeastern Spain, with fossils of adult and younger megalodons discovered. In all, five potential nurseries may have been found, including in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific basins, with fossils ranging from 16 million to 3 million years ago.

“Our analyses support the presence of five potential nurseries ranging from the Langhian (middle Miocene) to the Zanclean (Pliocene), with higher densities of individuals with estimated body lengths within the typical range of neonates and young juveniles,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract. “These results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by O. megalodon over large temporal and spatial scales, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations.” 

3D rendering of an extinct Megalodon shark in the seas of the Cenozoic Era.

3D rendering of an extinct Megalodon shark in the seas of the Cenozoic Era.
(iStock)

PREHISTORIC SHARK WITH ‘SPACESHIP-SHAPED TEETH’ DISCOVERED ALONGSIDE MOST FAMOUS TYRANNOSAURUS

The experts looked at 25 megalodon teeth in the Reverté and Vidal regions in Tarragona, Spain, using crown height to estimate size and age. The experts determined the younger sharks were roughly one month old and were 13 feet in length, while the older juvenile sharks were approximately 36 feet in length.

In September, a separate group of researchers determined the true size of an adult megalodon’s body, including its huge fins, based on fossils. A 52.5-foot-long megalodon likely had a head 15.3 feet long, a dorsal fin approximately 5.3 feet tall and a tail around 12.6 feet high, the scientists found.

The findings of the new study suggest that nurseries were prevalent for megalodons, feeding and protecting young members of the species, just as they are for modern sharks. However, the prevalence of nurseries may have resulted in the megalodon’s downfall, the scientists added.

“Ultimately, the presumed reliance of O. megalodon on the presence of suitable nursery grounds might have also been determinant in the demise of this iconic top predatory shark,” the study’s authors explained in the abstract.

Scientists continue to learn more about the history of sharks, which have survived all five global extinction events.

These three teeth depict more than 50 million years of shark teeth evolution. Megaldon's earliest ancestor, Otodos obliquus, from left, had smooth-edged teeth with a thick root and lateral cusplets, two mini-teeth flanking the main tooth. Another ancestor, Carcharocles auriculatus, had serrated teeth with lateral cusplets. Carcharocles megalodon had flattened bladel-ike teeth with uniform serrations and no cusplets. (Florida Museum, Kristen Grace)

These three teeth depict more than 50 million years of shark teeth evolution. Megaldon’s earliest ancestor, Otodos obliquus, from left, had smooth-edged teeth with a thick root and lateral cusplets, two mini-teeth flanking the main tooth. Another ancestor, Carcharocles auriculatus, had serrated teeth with lateral cusplets. Carcharocles megalodon had flattened bladel-ike teeth with uniform serrations and no cusplets. (Florida Museum, Kristen Grace)

Teeth of the monster of the deep that have been found are typically larger than a human hand, the researchers added. In recent memory, megalodon teeth have been found in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mexico.

In March 2019, a study suggested the giant shark spent

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Megalodon nurseries reveal world’s largest shark had a soft side

The enormous, extinct shark Megalodon probably doesn’t make you think of parenting and playdates. But a growing body of evidence suggests that these massive marine predators nurtured their babies by raising them in nurseries, and scientists just added five potential Megalodon nurseries to the list. 



a bird flying over a body of water: Megalodon, the biggest predatory shark of all time, watched over its young as many modern sharks do — by raising them in defined geographic areas known as nurseries.


© Provided by Live Science
Megalodon, the biggest predatory shark of all time, watched over its young as many modern sharks do — by raising them in defined geographic areas known as nurseries.

These baby-shark grounds are showing up all over. Scientists reported in 2010 that they had identified a Megalodon nursery in Panama. Recently, another team of researchers described a new Megalodon nursery site in northeastern Spain; fossils of fully grown sharks and youngsters were found together, with most of the fossils belonging to juveniles and newborns. 

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Those same scientists also analyzed data from eight other sites — from 16 million to 3 million years ago — where Otodus megalodon fossils were plentiful. They evaluated the body sizes of individual sharks to determine the ratio of juveniles to adults, and named four additional nursery sites. 

The results suggest that Megalodon adults commonly raised their young in nursery areas, where the wee shark babies would be protected until they were able to fend for themselves against other ocean predators. It also raises the possibility that the decline of available nursery sites may have contributed to the giant shark’s extinction, according to a new study.

Related: Photos: These animals used to be giants

O. megalodon is estimated to have measured up to 50 feet (15 meters) in length, making it the biggest predatory shark that ever lived. Most Megalodon fossils date to about 15 million years ago, and the giant fish vanished from the fossil record about 2.6 million years ago.

Today, many modern sharks raise their young in nurseries. Waters near northern Patagonia’s Buenos Aires province hold a nursery for several shark species, and a nursery of sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) in Long Island’s Great South Bay hosts juvenile sharks that live there until they are 4 or 5 years old. And the oldest known shark nursery is more than 200 million years old, according to fossilized egg cases found alongside shark “baby teeth” that are just 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) long, Live Science previously reported.

For the new study, the researchers investigated 25 teeth belonging to O. megalodon  from the Reverté and Vidal quarries in Spain’s Tarragona province. They used tooth crown height to estimate body size and to identify which of the sharks were babies; very young sharks — likely about one month old — that measured about 13 feet (4 m) long, and older juveniles measured up to 36 feet (11 m) in length. 

The scientists then used algorithms to model and compare the ratio of O. megalodon juveniles to adults at eight other sites across “a wide geographical area” that included the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific basins. They determined five potential nurseries “with higher densities of

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How Megalodon Sharks Grew Up to Become Apex Predators of the Sea, According to Scientists

Researchers have uncovered evidence to suggest that the largest sharks to ever roam the seas commonly raised their young in nursery areas where juveniles could grow up in a safe environment.

The scientists identified five potential megalodon nurseries—one off the eastern coast of Spain, two in the United States and two in Panama—in a study published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Megalodon (Otodus megalodon) is an extinct shark species that lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago.

The shark is considered to be one of the largest and most powerful predators ever to have lived on Earth, with some estimates suggesting that it could have grown up to around 60 feet in length.

Despite its gigantic size, young megalodon would have been vulnerable to attacks by other predators.

In order to overcome this problem, the sharks gave birth to their young in shallow, warm water nurseries near coastlines where the juveniles would have had plentiful access to prey while also facing relatively few predators.

“Our results reveal, for the first time, that nursery areas were commonly used by the O. megalodon, reducing early mortality and playing a key role in maintaining viable adult populations,” the authors wrote in the study.

These nurseries would have provided the the young with a “perfect place to grow” as they matured into adults—a process that took around 25 years.

“Many of them were quite small for such a large animal,” two of the authors, Carlos Martinez-Perez and Humberto Ferron from the University of Bristol, U.K., told AFP.

An analysis of megalodon teeth found in nine locations around the world revealed the sites of the five potential prehistoric nurseries, according to the study.

Examining the size of these teeth, the researchers concluded that these locations contained a high density of sharks that likely had body lengths within the typical range of newborns and young juveniles, suggesting the presence of prehistoric nurseries.

The nursery off Spain’s east coast would have been a “shallow bay area of warm waters, connected to the sea and with extensive coral reefs and plenty of invertebrates, fish species, marine mammals and other sharks and rays,” the authors said.

But the scientists note that megalodon’s apparent reliance on the existence of suitable nursery areas may have been a key factor in the demise of this iconic predator as the world cooled during the Pliocene period (around 5.3 million to 2.5 million years ago) and sea levels declined, leaving fewer of these safe havens.

megalodon
Stock image showing megalodon teeth.
iStock

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