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Remains of 100 ton prehistoric shark found off Lanzarote coastline

This is the biggest marine predator known to have existed 20 million years ago

Remains of 100 ton prehistoric shark found off Lanzarote coastlineAn important finding has been made 1,000 metres below the surface of the sea in the Canaries, consisting of a fossil bed where teeth from the “megalodon”, a giant prehistoric shark, have been discovered.

Researchers from the Spanish Oceanographic Institute have found remains of the largest marine predator ever to have existed on Earth on the lower slopes of the underwater mountain known as the Banco de Concepción, just to the north of the Isla de La Graciosa, which is a small outcrop just off the north of Lanzarote.

The prehistoric shark is known to have measured up to 20 metres in length and weighed 100 tons, and lived in the oceans from about 20 million years ago (in the Miocene) until it became extinct only two million years ago (in the Pliocene). The teeth found suggest that it fed mainly off large prey such as whales and dolphins.

Remains of 100 ton prehistoric shark found off Lanzarote coastlineThe remains of other species of shark have also been found at the same site, and specialists assert that they are “genuine representatives of the higher levels of the food chain” from pre-historic times. Their presence, according to oceanographers, demonstrates the plentiful supply of food such as whales, seals, sea cows and banks of fish in the waters of the Canaries between 23 million and five million years ago, when the archipelago first began to emerge from the sea bed.

The evidence gathered from the fossil deposits shows that smaller sharks were more common close to the coast, while larger adult animals tended to populate the open sea further from land. Marine biologists believe that this is probably due to certain coastal areas and islands being used as breeding grounds for the larger species, since the younger fish would have needed enormous quantities of food in order to develop to such large sizes.

Experts have also pointed out that this is the first time that evidence has been found of the existence of manatees and sea cows in the water around the Canaries, and that the findings represent an important contribution to studies regarding the ecosystem and climate which accompanied the geological formation of the islands millions of years ago.
 Source and images: Spanish Oceanographic Institute


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