Any seasoned viewer of horror movies would understand Megalodon to be a shark, compared to all of today’s species being half-parts, even the plankton-eating whale and basking sharks. Unlike the blockbuster movie that was released in cinemas in 2018 “Meg“ By John Turteltaub are the toughest giant predators of this kind Otodus megalodon In fact, however, it became extinct.
The research, published in Nature Communications, now bolsters the hypothesis that competition for food was a major factor. Significantly smaller, but still alive sharks would have challenged Megalodon to obtain food.
[Wenn Sie aktuelle Nachrichten aus Berlin, Deutschland und der Welt live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können]
Zinc in the age allows conclusions
Giant sharks like Otodus megalodon It lived in the oceans until about 3.6 million years ago. The oldest discoveries are about 23 million years old. The animals can probably reach 20 meters in length. It was thus more than three times the size of the largest white shark alive today (Carcharodon carcharias) with a length of six meters. Fossil finds of cartilaginous fish are essentially teeth.
For the current study, the international research team led by Jeremy McCormack of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) in Leipzig and Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main compared the proportion of different zinc isotopes stored in modern teeth and fossil shark teeth. Specimens came from all over the world – as well as teeth from modern and fossilized megalodon and great white sharks.
The analysis is similar to the already widely used investigation of nitrogen isotopes in dental collagen, the organic tissue in teeth. This provides indications as to whether the animal was fed primarily animal or plant proteins. However, the collagen that is normally required for this is no longer found in fossil teeth.
Therefore, the team compared zinc isotope fingerprints to megalodon teeth from the early Pliocene (which began just over five million years ago), even from much older giant sharks (Otodus chubutensis) from the early Miocene (that part of the third geological epoch before the Pliocene that began about 23 million years ago) and since and now great white sharks live. “Our research shows that zinc isotopes can be used to rebuild the diet and nutritional environment of extinct animals over millions of years,” McCormack was quoted as saying in a statement from MPI-EVA.
Food competition between predators
“Both megalodon and its ancestors were really prime predators,” says Michael Griffiths, a researcher at William Paterson University in New Jersey. This finding was expected given the size of the developing animals. But what is striking from the point of view of researchers is the composition of zinc isotopes. “It indicates that the nutritional levels of early great white sharks and the much larger megalodon were largely overlapping.”
This means that the animals hunted the same prey. In the case of great white sharks today, it consists mainly of fish, squid, and other sharks. Larger animals are also increasingly feeding on marine mammals such as seals and dolphins. Great white sharks also eat carrion, like dead whales.
cutest food Otodus megalodon It might have looked the same. “Our results suggest at least some overlap,” explains Kensho Shimada of DePaul University in Chicago. This topic requires more research, but it is possible that there was competition for food between megalodon and great white sharks, also in the early Pliocene, and smaller fish proved successful.
However, the numbers of great white sharks, which live in all oceans, are declining today and are considered “highly fragmented”. Animals are usually caught unintentionally in nets and hooks. On the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the stock is classified as “vulnerable”.