Largest-ever ancient shark ‘the Meg’ went extinct ‘because it was a fussy eater’
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History's largest predatory shark to have ever lived may have become extinct due to its fussy eating habit.
The Megalodon, also known as 'the meg', is an extinct species from the Lamniformes (Mackerel sharks) which lived roughly 4-23 million years ago.
According to research published in the journal 'Current Biology', shark evolution over the past 83 million years has been driven largely by diet preference and climate change.
Sharks have managed to survive five mass extinctions but the monster-tooth Megalodon was not one of them on the list – with its teeth indicating why.
Based on its tooth shape, the meg likely specialised in eating whales, which were very diverse at the time, reports 9NewsAU.com.
It is believed that the species had a very specialised diet which may have consisted of the giant sperm whale Leviathan melvillei.
This particular diet would have put the sea-creature at a disadvantage due to cooling climates during the Miocene and Pliocene period – leading to changes in its preferred diet.
Research conducted by 9 News, inspected the stomach contents of modern Lamniformes and found that most species tend to feed on specific food groups.
The thresher and mako sharks mainly feed on bony fish. The basking shark only eats plankton, while adult great white sharks feed primarily on mammals.
Studies indicate that the low diversity of Lamniformes living today is likely the result of repeated extinction events.
In comparison, both modern and past Carcharhiniformes (ground sharks) are and were more adaptable with their diets.
Over the past 50 million years, the ground sharks have also directly benefitted from the expansion of coral reefs.
Dietary specialisation and flexibility to environmental changes have since led to the imbalance in Lamniformes and Carcharhiniformes species numbers today.
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