New study shows megalodon shark became extinct 2.6 million years ago

October 22nd, 2014
Pimiento in lab

Lead researcher Catalina Pimiento measures a megalodon tooth at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new University of Florida study dismisses claims that megalodon is still alive by determining a date of extinction for the largest predatory shark to ever live.

Researchers from UF and the University of Zurich hope the study appearing online today in the journal PLOS ONE showing the species became extinct 2.6 million years ago will clarify public confusion. The study may also one day help scientists better understand the potential widespread effects of losing the planet’s top predators, said lead author Catalina Pimiento.

“I was drawn to the study of Carcharocles megalodon’s extinction because it is fundamental to know when species became extinct to then begin to understand the causes and consequences of such an event,” said Pimiento, a doctoral candidate at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus. “I also think people who are interested in this animal deserve to know what the scientific evidence shows, especially following Discovery Channel specials that implied megalodon may still be alive.”

The study represents the first phase of Pimiento’s ongoing reconstruction of megalodon’s extinction. As modern top predators, especially large sharks, are significantly declining worldwide due to the current biodiversity crisis, Pimiento said this study serves as the basis to better understand the consequences of these changes.

“When you remove large sharks, then small sharks are very abundant and they consume more of the invertebrates that we humans eat,” Pimiento said. “Recent estimations show that large-bodied, shallow-water species of sharks are at greatest risk among marine animals, and (more…)

Register now for K-5 school holiday camps Nov. 24-25

September 17th, 2014
Stephanie Stocks, a doctoral student in the UF Department of Entomology and Nematology, shows children an emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperator, during the museum's Spring Break Camp in 2013. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

UF doctoral candidate Stephanie Stocks shows children an emperor scorpion, Pandinus imperator, during a 2013 spring break camp.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Kristen Grace

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Students will have the opportunity to investigate monster myths and explore celebrations from around the world with the Florida Museum of Natural History during school holiday camps Nov. 24-25.

Pre-registration for students enrolled in grades K-5 for the 2014-2015 school year is required for all camps and is available online at The camps provide natural history exploration through museum exhibits and hands-on activities.

“Museum camps are all about having fun while learning,” said Florida Museum public programs coordinator Catherine Carey.

On Nov. 24, students will explore the “Monster Myths” behind megalodon, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and giant squids, and learn about the difference between science and storytelling. This camp complements the museum’s featured fall exhibit, “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived,” which explores the evolution, biology and (more…)

Museum begins year of giant fossils with ‘Megalodon’ exhibit opening Oct. 4

September 3rd, 2014

MegLogo_CMYK_FNL.jpgEditors: Exhibit press materials are available here.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — After six years of touring the country to more than 1 million visitors, the Florida Museum of Natural History welcomes “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived” home beginning Oct. 4.

Produced by the Florida Museum, the exhibit tells the story of the largest shark that ever lived. It features a 60-foot-long walk-through sculpture of Megalodon and describes the evolution, biology and legends of giant prehistoric sharks. Though this dominant marine predator vanished 2 million years ago, its fascinating story inspires lessons for science and (more…)

Florida Museum scientists discover megalodon shark nursery

May 10th, 2010

Photos Available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida Museum of Natural History researchers have discovered a 10-million-year-old Neotropical nursery area for the extinct megalodon shark in Panama, providing fossil evidence the fish used these areas to protect their young for millions of years.

Appearing in this week’s edition of the journal PLoS ONE, the article is the first thorough study of megalodon juveniles and gives scientists a better picture of shark behavior.

“The study provides evidence of megalodon behavior in the fossil record,” said lead author Catalina Pimiento, who just completed a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida and worked in the Florida Museum’s vertebrate paleontology division. “Behavior doesn’t fossilize, but we were able to interpret ancient protection strategies used by extinct sharks based on the fossil record.” (more…)

Florida Museum shark exhibit that began in High Springs traveling far and wide

November 2nd, 2009

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — From its humble beginnings at Archie’s Welding Services in High Springs, the Florida Museum of Natural History’s “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived,” exhibit has traveled many miles since its debut in June 2007.

After its display at the Florida Museum in Gainesville, the exhibit made a trans-pacific journey to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu where it was well received by more than 50,000 visitors from Oct. 11, 2008, to Jan. 11. The Miami Science Museum displayed the exhibit from Feb. 21 through Sept. 13 to an audience of more than 60,000.

“I would venture to say that the full-scale model is one of the most favorite parts—it’s definitely mine,” said Adriana Marin, Miami Science Museum marketing manager. “It’s really impressive because you can see it in comparison with your own size.” (more…)

Preserved shark fossil adds evidence to great white’s origins

March 12th, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A new Florida Museum of Natural History study could help resolve a long-standing debate in shark paleontology: From which line of species did the modern great white shark evolve?

For the last 150 years, some paleontologists have concluded the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, is a smaller relative of the line that produced Carcharodon megalodon, the largest carnivorous fish known. Other paleontologists disagree, arguing the great white shark evolved instead from the broad-toothed mako shark. The second group contends megalodon, which grew to a length of 60 feet, should have its genus name switched to Carcharocles to reflect its different ancestry.

The study in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology falls squarely into the mako camp. It concludes megalodon and modern white sharks are much more distantly related than paleontologists initially believed. (more…)

As Gators prepare for Hawaii, Fla. Museum readying Meg exhibit to ship to Aloha State

August 28th, 2008

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As the Gators prepare to host the University of Hawaii Warriors Saturday, staff at the Florida Museum of Natural History are feverishly readying its popular Megalodon shark exhibit to ship to the Aloha State for the first stop on its national tour.

Museum employees will begin loading the “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived” exhibit today for the trans-pacific journey to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, where it is scheduled to open Oct. 11.

“Its pure chance that the exhibit’s first stop is Honolulu and that we’re shipping it as the Gators prepare to play Hawaii,” said Darcie MacMahon, Florida Museum assistant director for exhibits. “We had the contract before we knew the Gators would be playing Hawaii, but we’re thrilled to be part of this cultural exchange.” (more…)

Fla. Museum ‘Mega-Shark’ home school class for ages 7-11 begins Oct. 15

October 5th, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History is offering a home school class “Mega-Shark” for ages 7-11 starting Oct. 15. Participants will investigate interdisciplinary principles of paleontology, marine biology and ichthyology in a search for the largest shark that ever lived, the 60-foot-long Megalodon.

Pre-registration for the four-day home school session is required. The cost is $72 for Florida Museum members and $86 for non-members. Classes run from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Oct. 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5. For more information call (352) 846-2000, ext. 248. (more…)

Discovery Channel ‘Shark Week’ features Florida Museum shark expert

July 26th, 2007

Photo available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Discovery Channel will feature Florida Museum of Natural History shark expert George Burgess in two programs during its 20th anniversary Shark Week beginning Sunday through Aug. 4.

Burgess is director of the Florida Program for Shark Research and the International Shark Attack File, both located in the museum on the University of Florida campus.

The week’s opening two-hour special, “Ocean of Fear: The Worst Shark Attack Ever,” airs at 9 p.m. Sunday and tells the story of the USS Indianapolis, which sank in the Philippine Sea in 1945. Hundreds of crew members floated in the water for days and many died from injuries, dehydration and exposure. Some were attacked by sharks. (more…)

Fla. Museum offers special programs for shark exhibit opening Saturday Bring your fossils and ‘Stump the Smithsonian Paleontologists’ Exhibit features 60-foot-long Megalodon walk-through sculpture

June 11th, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Join the Florida Museum of Natural History for a day of family fun 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday during the opening of the national traveling exhibit, “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived.”

Visitors may bring in their own fossils to try and “Stump the Smithsonian Paleontologists” while having the fossils identified. Other family fun and discovery includes activities and interaction with area fossil club representatives and Florida Museum researchers as well as gallery walks with other local shark experts, including Mark Renz, author of “Megalodon: Hunting the Hunted.” Renz will give a gallery walk at 11 a.m. followed by a book signing session from 12-4 p.m.

Produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History, “Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived,” features a 60-foot-long walk-through sculpture of the giant shark and will on display through Jan. 6, 2008. Admission to the Megalodon exhibit is free, though a donation is suggested. (more…)

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