(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists compared the body size of giant prehistoric megalodon sharks with their habitats. It turned out that the largest individuals, reaching 15-20 meters, lived in cold waters.
An international team of scientists analyzed the body size of the giant shark fossil Otodus megalodon , which lived 3.6-15 million years ago.
This creature is described from just a few teeth and vertebrae that have been preserved in the fossil record around the world. According to scientists, the body length of Megalodon could reach 15-20 meters.
However, now paleontologists have revised the data on the locations of the remains of the shark and have come to the conclusion that the size of megalodons depended on the range. At the same time, the largest individuals lived in cold waters, and the smaller ones lived in warm ones.
Such a previously unknown trend of changing the size of the body of megalodons depending on the habitat is associated with Bergman’s rule.
The German biologist Carl Bergmann in the mid-1800s identified a pattern: larger animals of related species live in colder climates – in northern latitudes or in the mountains.
This is due to the fact that the large size of the body allows warm-blooded animals to retain heat more efficiently. It turned out that Bergman’s rule also works for megalodon, which, like some modern sharks, was probably partly warm-blooded.
Scientists considered some places where the remains of megalodons were found to be the so-called shark nurseries, since the teeth found there were noticeably smaller than in other regions and could belong to young individuals.
But a new study has shown that all megalodon nurseries are located near the equator. This suggests that sharks grew to smaller sizes in warmer waters.
This trend was especially pronounced for the late Miocene populations inhabiting the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean, and for the inhabitants of the Atlantic in the early Pliocene.
Thus, not all megalodons grew to the gigantic sizes found in science fiction books and films. Probably, only sharks of northern latitudes were so huge.
Now global warming is rapidly shifting the ranges of many marine life to northern latitudes. Therefore, the results of the study are relevant for predicting changes that will occur with top marine predators such as sharks in the near future.
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