Need some nightmare fuel? Deep sea researchers recently discovered a gigantic megalodon tooth while exploring the ocean floor in the Pacific.
What’s especially interesting is that the tooth was found well outside the megalodon’s known habitat. Previous finds have shown the ancient creatures preferred areas off of the Carolinas and Baja California, for example.
But this mega-chomper showed up in the middle of the Pacific, in an area called the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument.
“What’s particularly interesting about this location to me is how remote and way out in the ocean it is, compared to the generally coastal habitats megalodon teeth are found in,” Jack Cooper, a paleobiology researcher at Swansea University, told Newsweek.
“This suggests to me that the shark might have been migrating across the ocean when it lost that tooth,” Cooper said. (Maybe it was looking for a dentist.)
An unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle snatched the tooth off the ocean floor, 3,089 meters — more than 10,000 feet, under the surface. The vehicle, dubbed Hercules, was collecting samples for an unrelated study.
The team cleaned up the item and found what appears to be a very old, human-hand-sized tooth. A tooth so large it could really only belong to the megalodon, a shark-like, long-extinct predator.
According to a Facebook post celebrating the find, researchers Katie Kelley and Rebecca Robinson, of the University of Rhode Island, will now work to confirm the tooth’s identification:
Scientists have used megalodon teeth to estimate the size and feeding habits of the creature. A study published in August 2022 used 3-D computer modeling to guess at what the massive shark may have looked like.
The study’s authors theorize that the meg cruised faster than sharks living today, and could “fully consume prey the size of modern apex predators.” Which is to say, these dudes ate whales. Fully grown, adult whales.
That’s scary, but don’t go canceling your beach vacation yet. Megalodons have been extinct for at least 2 million years. And don’t go believing it when folks say there might still be one out there — a 65-foot-long shark with a mouth 11 feet tall is hard to miss.