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Home » Deep-sea discovery: Megalodon tooth reveals ancient shark’s secrets

Deep-sea discovery: Megalodon tooth reveals ancient shark’s secrets

In a groundbreaking collaboration, a team of oceanographers from various U.S. institutions joined forces with a zoologist affiliated with the SNSB-Bavarian State Collection of in Germany. Their remarkable discovery, detailed in the journal Historical Biology, marks the first-ever in situ identification of a fossilized megalodon tooth in the deep sea, providing unique insights into the shark's existence.

Megalodons, colossal mackerel sharks extinct for 3.6 to 23 million years, were once apex predators renowned for their immense size and power. Despite their prominence in prehistoric oceans, evidence of these giants has predominantly surfaced in the form of fossilized teeth, scattered across sandy beaches or lodged in fossilized whale bones.

The serendipitous unearthing of the megalodon tooth occurred during a survey off the Johnson Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Employing a remotely controlled underwater robot to explore the ocean floor, the researchers stumbled upon the tooth, conspicuously protruding from the sand. Swift documentation, including photographs and video footage, preceded the careful extraction of the tooth by their robot.

Screenshot from the documentation video of the (ROV) Hercules at a depth of 3090 m on an unnamed seamount located ~350 km southeast of Johnston Atoll (dive H1926, 14.11332°N, 167.39357°W, 23 June 2022) showing the site with the Otodus megalodon tooth. Credit: Historical Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2023.2291771

Back in the laboratory, meticulous examination of the tooth unveiled its remarkably well-preserved state, particularly its serrated edge. Intriguingly, the tooth, measuring a modest 63 to 68 millimeters, had defied the typical fate of displacement and erosion. The researchers propose that its pristine condition owes itself to the unique seabed location—a region with robust currents that impede sediment accumulation, thereby safeguarding the tooth from the usual wear and tear.

This singular discovery challenges the conventional findings of megalodon teeth in various locations and sheds light on the potential significance of preserving artifacts in their original deep-sea setting. While not indicative of an exceptionally large megalodon, the tooth's undisturbed position promises a wealth of information for ocean scientists striving to unravel the mysteries of ancient marine life.

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