The Megalodon is known to be the largest shark that ever lived in the ocean, an ancient shark that spread terror among marine animals. The animal is now extinct, although its fossils are of great importance to scientists who explore how such a dangerous and strong animal could go extinct just like that. Scientists received a lot of information from an ancient shark’s tooth, a 4-inch long tooth, that was recently stolen from a remote location, that was apparently supposed to be secret, at an Australian World Heritage site.
The Megalodon was capable of growing up to 50 feet and could weigh as heavy as 37 tons. According to the scientists, the fossilized tooth that they used for research, that was also extremely valuable, is believed to be from 2 to 2.5 million years old.
“It had quite defined features on it, so you could see the serrated edge of the shark’s tooth, it was probably one of the better specimens we knew of,” Arvid Hogstrom, from Western Australia’s Parks and Wildlife Service, was quoted by AFP.
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Hogstorm told AFP that, “very few people” were aware of where the ancient shark’s tooth was located within the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area, which is a 604,500 hectare marine and land reserve on the Australian west coast. This site also contains some small but useful remains of the ancient marine predator.
“It is not something someone would have stumbled across and they have been required to put a bit of effort in to get it out of the rock as well,” Hogstrom said. “We presume an amateur collector [has taken it] or someone that just wants to have a fossil sitting on their mantelpiece.”
Given that the fossil of the ancient shark’s tooth is incredibly rare, authorities were trying to hide it with rocks, covering it in order to conceal it. They were considering new locations and methods on how to preserve the tooth for long-term.
“Normally, you would just get portions of the tooth, embedded in limestone, rather than an almost whole tooth,” Hogstrom told BBC News.
“But unfortunately, someone has beaten us to it,” Hogstrom said. “It is in such a remote location and we just don’t check the site every day, we are not exactly sure when it disappeared, but we got a report on Friday.”
Scientists think that this massive predator initially appeared between 28 and 23 million years ago. Also, it is believed that it went extinct at between 2.6 and 1.6 million years ago, according to different estimates made by biologists. The shark consisted of pure muscle, mouth, and huge teeth that could measure up to 8 inches long. Those teeth enabled it to tear through anything that it caught in its jaws. In fact, the Megalodon was believed to have had the strongest bite opposed to any predator that ever roamed on Earth. Furthermore, the bite was so strong, that it could potentially crush a car.
As per the report from BBC, Hogstrom said that the ancient shark’s tooth was likely removed with a hammer or a chisel.