On Saturday, Discovery Channel will air Megalodon: The New Evidence, a sequel to the 2013 “documentary” Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. Both specials are about Carcharocles megalodon, the largest predatory shark of all time, and feature alleged “shocking new evidence” that these animals are not really extinct. (Spoiler alert: they’re extinct.)
Scientists estimate these sharks, the ancestors of the modern day mako shark,could grow larger than 50 feet long. They got their name (which means “mega tooth”) from their enormous teeth, each of which could be greater than six inches long. (A modern great white shark, in comparison, has teeth less than two inches long.) Megalodon’s bite force was greater than that of Tyrannosaurs rex. If these sharks were indeed still alive, it would be noteworthy and concerning for anyone who spends time in the ocean.
Though it appears convincing, the “evidence” presented in these Shark Week documentaries is not real. It consists of interviews with witnesses and experts who are actually actors, as well as photoshopped imagery. Both documentaries arecompletely fake, continuing a recent disturbing trend in educational television. In short, Shark Week is lying to you, and it isn’t the first time.
After 2013’s “documentary” aired, the Discovery Channel received strong criticism from scientists, media critics, and the business world. In response, Discovery issued a half-hearted and dishonest defense, with phrases like “there’s still debate” and “who really knows?” In reality, according to megalodon researcher Meghan Balk at the University of New Mexico, “there is no doubt in the scientific community that Megalodon is extinct.” These sharks lived approximately from the middle Miocene (~16 million years ago) to the early Pliocene (~1.5 million years ago), Balk told The Daily Beast.
There are a few ways that scientific experts know that megalodon is no longer alive. First and foremost, no one has ever seen one, and no evidence that they are still alive has ever been produced. Out of the countless megalodon tooth fossils that have been found around the world, none have been dated at less than 1.5 million years old. “Their fossil teeth are found until the Pliocene, with no fossil evidence beyond this time,” Catalina Pimiento, a megalodon researcher at the University of Florida, said. Some species of sharks can go through tens of thousands of teeth in their lifetime, which means that if these animals were still alive, someone would almost certainly have found a tooth younger than 1.5 million years old.
- More articles from The Daily Beast:
- ‘Mission Blue’ Warning: The Ocean Is Not Too Big to Fail
- 'Ghostbusters' and the Slow Emancipation of Female-Driven Comedy
- Viral Video of the Day: Hyper Time-Lapse Video
© 2014 Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
PHOTO: Getty Images