Thursday, April 14, 2011

Megalodon at the Mall?

Visitors to the Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh have been pleasantly greeted by a six foot tall Megalodon shark jaw since September 2010. In a matter of weeks that jaw will be packed up and shipped south in preparation for the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher’s new exhibit Megaladon: Diving with North Carolina’s Ultimate Predator.

Similar to modern day sharks and rays, Megalodon was a cartilaginous fish. The only remaining scientific evidence from this extinct predator is teeth. Ranging in length from four to six inches, the teeth indicate that this animal was massive, approximately 50-60 feet.

The Aquarium’s replicated jaw has an interesting story. The original Megalodon teeth were found in Aurora, NC – a full set. Megalodons had four rows of teeth. Most Megalodon models use two or three teeth molds repeated on each row. This jaw is made from molds from the complete set: four rows of each individual tooth.

The jaw will soon be displayed in a new interactive exhibit scheduled to open at the Aquarium in mid-June. The various artifacts and fun features of the display will allow visitors an opportunity to test their shark smarts as they learn about the extinct predator of the deep. Aquarium visitors will also learn more about modern day sharks which face similar threats and how important these species are for healthy ocean ecosystems.

Megalodon ruled the sea from 20 million to about two million years ago. Climate change during this time may have caused their extinction by altering the migratory routes of whales, which was the food of choice for Megalodon.

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