Spanish paleontologists have explained the possible cause of the extinction of the largest prehistoric sharks in the history of the Earth about three million years ago. The cooling climate has led to a drop in sea levels, leaving fewer coastal areas suitable for maturing megalodon cubs. The dependence of marine predators on “nurseries” influenced the extinction of the species that existed on Earth for 20 million years. This is reported in an article published in the journal Biology Letters.
It took young megalodons 25 years to reach maturity. Adults reached a monstrous 18 meters in length, which is three times the size of the largest representatives of great white sharks. The megalodon was an apex predator and had no natural enemies, but the cubs were vulnerable to other predators, including other sharks. In the new work, scientists showed that areas of the continental shelves with relatively shallow depths served as an ideal place for growing up.
Paleontologists have discovered a nursery area off the east coast of Spain in the province of Tarragona. It is a shallow bay with warm water, extensive coral reefs and many different species of marine life, including rays, fish, mammals, sharks and invertebrates. Small teeth of young megalodons were found here. Other possible nurseries were located off the coast of the United States, Peru, Panama and Chile.
The cooling of the climate led many of the animals that megalodons hunted to adapt to the cold waters, while the superpredators themselves remained in warm areas, where they had to compete with great white sharks for food leftovers. Due to the growth of glaciers, the sea level decreased, which led to the disappearance of many nurseries and the final extinction of megalodons.