February 26, 2021

the giant shark that used to breed in present-day Tarragona 23 million years ago


A study by the Cavanilles Institute of the University of Valencia provides new data on the megalodon, an iconic mega-predator that acquired complex reproductive strategies that, in part, could explain its evolutionary success. However, the dependence on certain breeding areas could have been one of the main causes of their extinction, due to the loss of these environments due to climatic changes during the Pliocene.

The research findings, which have been published in the journal Biology Letters, have been extracted from the study of a collection of megalodon teeth deposited in the Museu del Cau del Tauró, in L’Arboç (Tarragona).

The article concludes that the area from where the teeth were extracted would have been a bay of warm waters that the megalodon individuals would have used as a breeding and growth area for their juvenile individuals, in a protected environment rich in food resources.

In this shallow environment, other sharks such as Hemipristis serra or Carcharodon hastalis and species that could have been part of the megalodon diet, such as marine mammals.

In addition, this new breeding area has been compared with others belonging to different geological formations of the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean basins, to try to extract other potential breeding areas at different times of the time scale, as well as in different geographical regions.

Panama and Tarragona, the only two known breeding areas

The comparative framework, as well as the methods, based on previous work by other authors, provide new information, since previously only one possible breeding area for this species had been adequately described in Panama.

Among the results of the comparison between the populations of eight additional formations, and the localities that compose them, four potential breeding areas have been obtained in North and South America, in addition to the already named Tarragona region, one of them the previously known from Panama.

The wide distribution of these areas in time and geographically supposes a new source of information about the reproductive strategies that this great predator used during its evolutionary history.

This opens the door to study the possible causes of their extinction, due to the disappearance of many shallow coastal areas, which could have been breeding areas, during the Pliocene, when the drop in sea level eliminated many of these environments. .

Future work will focus on studying in more depth this possible relationship between its complex reproductive strategy and climatic changes as factors of the extinction of the megalodon.

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