1
$\begingroup$

A long time ago the 60ft long Megalodon roamed the oceans, fast forward to 2.6 million years ago and they went extinct (and yes they definitely went extinct don't let the discovery channel fool you). But lets say that Megalodon never went extinct how might they affect the oceans ecology? As in would whales be as large as they are today?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I have the strong feeling this is too broad. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 12 at 8:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Have you looked up the evolution of whales before 3m years ago? $\endgroup$ – Borgh Mar 12 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ Small whales caused their extinction by cooperative hunting behaviour, Megalodon were one of their prey $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Mar 12 at 9:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Kilisi lemme guess, that has the same citation source as the Borneo cyclone trees, right? $\endgroup$ – Adrian Colomitchi Mar 12 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ What factors were already different that would allow them to not be hunted to extinction by orcas? - we'd need to know this to answer - even then it's still opinion based. (From review). $\endgroup$ – Tantalus' touch. Mar 12 at 10:39
8
$\begingroup$

Did you know that Great White Sharks are terrified of orcas? like proper poop-their-ocean terrified. Tagged Great Whites who hear the click-click of a pod of hunting orcas dive to the deepest point they can and stay there for hours.

This is probably one of the reasons Megalodon went extinct*: eaten by the ancestors of orcas.

Baleen whales got to their current sizes right around the time Megalodon went extinct but there is no evidence that predation kept them small, you would expect the opposite: a race to giant size so that they become untouchable by sharks. Instead the race to gigantism seems to have been driven by changes in climate and ocean currents that meant more food was available.

So what would change if Megalodon hadn't gone extinct:

  1. slightly fatter orcas
  2. baby whales might try to grow even faster, mom-whales might be a bit more protective.
  3. other large sea creatures like elephant seals will employ strategies that their smaller cousins employ today to dodge Megalodon.

But long story short: Megalodon didn't enjoy a ecological niche that isn't filled these days by modern large sharks or orcas so there is no reason to expect any widespread changes in the overall ecology of the oceans, no matter how much a 10-metre shark speaks to the imagination.

* Megalodon extiction seems to have been one of those perfect storms: climate change, geological upheaval (Panama closing), astronomical events and the rise of a class of intelligent predators that know the trick to eating sharks.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ There are evidence that Megalodon went extinct because of an astronomical event which hit large animals more than small one. And shark are terrified by orcas because they use to flip them upside down and suck their liver out while they are still alive, leaving then them to a slow death... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Mar 12 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ True, but Megalodon extiction seems to have been one of those perfect storms: climate change, geological upheaval (Panama closing), astronomical events and the rise of a class of intelligent predators that know the trick to eating sharks. $\endgroup$ – Borgh Mar 12 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ This is probably how Megalodon went extinct: eaten by the ancestors of orcas. Any evidence for this ? $\endgroup$ – StephenG Mar 12 at 11:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'd add 4: There would be one more entry on IUCN's list of endangered species, and one less on the extinct species. $\endgroup$ – Nyos Mar 12 at 12:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This seems wrong. Wikipedia A 2019 study reviewed newer evidence suggesting that competition from the modern great white shark may have also contributed to the extinction of megalodon, coupled with range fragmentation resulting in a gradual, asynchronous extinction. citation - open access - read the abstract $\endgroup$ – Adrian Colomitchi Mar 12 at 12:34

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.