Paleontologists have unearthed megashark hunting grounds in the US for the first time that was used by juveniles some 24 million years ago.
Approximately 87 teeth from megaladons were found near Summerville, South Carolina in the fossil-rich Chandler Bridge Formation, along with the nearby Ashley Formation.
Along with finding the third nursery in the world, the team also discovered the largest population of teeth belonging to juvenile Carcharocles angustidens – a predecessor of the megalodon.
This ancient megatooth shark was previously said to grow up to 28 feet long, but the recent teeth suggest it reached 29 feet.
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Approximately 87 teeth were found near Summerville, South Carolina in the fossil-rich Chandler Bridge Formation, along with the nearby Ashley Formation
Megalodon nurseries have been discovered in Panama and Chile, which produced hundreds of ancient fossils.
However, the latest is the first to be discovered in North America that was once home to easily accessible prey for the young megasharks.
A team from the College of Charleston explains that the nursery was used some 24 million years ago by the megalodons as a safe haven and a source of easy prey for food.
The biggest surprise was finding that this area was inhabited by the Carcharocles angustidens during the Oligocene, which was 23 million to 34 million years ago.
Along with finding the third nursery in the world, the team also discovered the largest population of teeth belonging to juvenile Carcharocles angustidens – a predecessor of the megalodon
‘These data suggest that the Charleston Embayment was in fact a nursery area for Carcharocles angustidens during the Oligocene, and explains why most of the teeth found here are under 7cm in length (3′),’ the College of Charleston shared in a tweet.
The research is based on 84 teeth that was gathered from Chandler Bridge Formation and the three from Ashley formation.
The team analyzed the size of each tooth and calculated that 91 percent of the creatures were juveniles, three percent were babies and six percent came from adults.
The research is based on 84 teeth that was gathered from Chandler Bridge Formation (pictured) and the three from Ashley formation
Addie Miller with the College of Charleston found a large tooth from the Copper River showed the C. angustidens averaged 29 feet long, with the smallest clocking in at six feet – the majority ranged from 13 to 16 feet in length.
The newly found details of C. angustidens are a great find, as these teeth may reveal what the massive creatures ate and their population size around the world.
‘One question that I would be interested in pursuing in the future would be the total body length (TBL) minimum of a C. angustidens neonate or newborn,’ Miller shared with Vice in an email.
‘Since we have proposed and defended a new TBL maximum of 8.85 meters, it would be wonderful come full circle and propose a possible minimum TBL as well!’
Megalodon is the largest shark species that ever lived, growing to 60 feet long, three times the size of the largest of today’s great whites.
And the earliest megalodon fossils date to 20 million years ago.
South Carolina is home to millions of fossils, which attracts tourists from all over in search of the hidden treasures.
The first fossil found in the US was discovered in 1725 on a plantation when slaves dug up a tooth from a Columbian mammoth, which is now South Carolina’s official state fossil.
WHAT IS THE MEGALODON?
The megalodon, meaning big-tooth, lived between 15.9 and 2.6 million years ago.
C. megalodon is considered to be one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history and fossil remains suggest it grew to 59 ft (18 metres) long.
It’s thought the monster looked like a stockier version of today’s much feared great white shark and weighed up to 100 tons.
Megalodon is known from fossilized vertebrae and teeth, which are triangular and measure almost eight inches (20cm) in diagonal length.
Famed fossil hunter Vito ‘Megalodon’ Bertucci took almost 20 years to reconstruct a megalodon’s jaw – largest ever assembled – which measures 11 ft across and is almost 9 nine ft tall.
The Megalodon’s colossal mouth would have produced a but force of 10.8 to 18.2 tons.
The ancient shark has been described as a super predator, because it could swim at high speeds and kill a wide variety of prey such as sea turtles and whales, quickly in its strong jaws.