News Column

'Megalodon,' an exhibit about the largest shark that ever lived, coming to the Museum of Science & History

May 23, 2014

By Charlie Patton, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville



May 23--MEGALODON: LARGEST SHARK THAT EVER LIVED

Where: Museum of Science & History, 1025 Museum Circle

When: Grand opening is Saturday. Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday noon-5 p.m; through Sept. 14.

Cost: $10 adults, $8 students, seniors (55 and over) and active military, $6 children (3-12); free to members

Information: (904) 396-6674; www.themost.org

Compared to the megalodon, a shark which was the dominant marine predator until vanishing 2 million years ago, the great white shark, which terrorized beach-goers in the movie "Jaws," was a guppie.

Scientists believe that megalodon, the subject of a new exhibit at the Museum of Science & History, could reach a length of about 60 feet, weigh more than 75 tons, and consumed 2,500 pounds of food a day, mostly other sea creatures. Its jaws contained six rows of teeth, about 275 altogether.

The museum's "Megalodon; Largest Shark That Ever Lived" opens Saturday and will continue through Sept. 14. The 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibit produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History highlights the evolution and biology of megalodon.

Visitors enter the exhibit, on the museum's second floor, through a framework intended to convey the size of the prehistoric shark. A sign at the entrance warns visitors who wish to enter the belly of the beast to do so "at your own risk."

What survives of megalodon today are fossilized teeth and a few fossilized vertebral discs. Sharks have no bones, only teeth and cartilage. It's not uncommon for fossilized teeth to be found in Florida, which was under water during the years megalodons ruled the seas.

One of the sponsors of the exhibit is Jacksonville dentist Clifford Jeremiah, who collects fossilized shark teeth. People who have collected shark's teeth can bring them to the exhibit and compare them to an extensive collection of shark's teeth at one station of the exhibit. Also, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, June 14, visitors can bring mystery objects like shark's teeth to the museum and a panel of experts will try to identify them.

Scientists believe megalodon became extinct because of climate change and shifting food resources. Megalodon flourished in warm water. Whales, which were a primary food source, began dispersing to cooler waters.

The primitive cultures which inhabited Florida once man arrived found the teeth of the Megalodon useful as tools and decorations. The exhibit includes a number of these repurposed teeth including one found in Glades County whose human use dates to 3650 B.C. The exhibit also includes a six million yeas old tooth found in Duval County.

Charlie Patton: (904) 359-4413

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(c)2014 The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Visit The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, Fla.) at www.jacksonville.com

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Source: Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville, FL)


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