Megalodon was the largest shark that ever lived. And despite what you've seen during Shark Week, it lived up until a few million years ago, and is no more. During its heyday, a nearly 60-foot-long Megalodon could swallow small whales. So what caused Megalodon to go extinct? New research gives some clues, by first adjusting the date the big shark went extinct. Once thought to be 2.6 million years, it appears that Megalodon died out at least 3.6 million years ago, which precedes the mass ocean extinction once blamed for its disappearance. Paleontologist Robert Boessenecker worked for more than ten years to pin down the date.
And based on the new study, Boessenecker thinks something else may have wiped out the megalodon. Intriguingly, the new dates coincide with the global spread of the the creature's smaller but still fierce relative, the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, which made its global debut by some four million years ago. Though there were other changes during this window that could have affected the megalodon, they were largely local shakeups.
“Nothing else is that cosmopolitan,” Boessenecker says.