Megalodon: Is It Possible That This Nearly 67-Foot Shark Still Exists Off the Coast of South Africa?
A rendering of the megalodon shark (Discovery).
Shark Week is upon us (starting Sunday, 8/4 at 8 PM with a new "Air Jaws"), and one of the highlights this year is "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives," which combines our love of all things shark ("Jaws," "Sharknado") with our love of all things giant ("Godzilla," Shaquille O'Neal in "Kazaam") and a dash of "X-Files"-style cryptozoology. Only watch this exclusive preview if you're prepared to see a shark's tooth the size of a small dog and are prepared to deal with the thought of a mouth containing another 275 of the same.
Megalodon was a shark species that grew possibly as long as 67 feet (more than three times the length of the largest-known great white shark). Current evidence suggests megalodon went extinct about a million and a half years ago, but "The Monster Shark Lives" offers a scenario in which they still exist off the deep waters of South Africa and are responsible for a number of attacks off its coast. Considering it's only been about ten years since we first got photographic evidence of a deep-sea giant squid, it's certainly not impossible.
[GIFs: 10 of Pop Culture's Best Sharks]
Could megalodon exist today? The short answer is no. Though scientists only recently snapped pics, there has been circumstantial evidence of the giant squid (bite marks, remains inside whale stomachs) for much longer. Something the size of megalodon would have definitely left something for us to find. The long answer is "Who knows?" The megamouth shark wasn't discovered until 1976, and the coelacanth was thought to have been extinct for 65 million years before surfacing in 1938.
It's not surprising that people are still chasing the possibility of a creature with the appetite of a great white and twice the size of the largest known fish we do have evidence of (the whale shark, which maxes out at about 45 feet long).
A predator that could swallow a city bus is more than enough to compel sharkaeologists (technically, they're marine paleontologists, since archaeology is the study of human history, but "sharkaeologist" sounds way cooler) to spend years digging up hills:
Or get "MythBusters" to build a giant working replica: