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Andrew Alden

No, Megalodon Is Not Alive

By August 5, 2013

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megalodon toothApparently a widely viewed Discovery Channel program, launching its "Shark Week" of programming, baldly asserted that the great extinct shark Carcharodon megalodon is not extinct, as shown by the fossil evidence, but swimming the seas today! But the program, "Megalodon—The Monster Shark Lives," was bald fiction from its title on down. "Megalodon" is just as alive as Bigfoot.

Those of us who remember the misleading and exaggerated "Supervolcano" program already knew this about Discovery. The "Megalodon" fiasco has just alienated another tranche of its viewers.

My colleague Bob Strauss, the Dinosaurs Guide, registered his disappointment right after the program ended and has been joined in anguish by hundreds of commenters. Christie Wilcox, whose Science Sushi blog is hosted by Discover Magazine, bitterly complained that "shark week has seriously jumped the shark." (This young American idiom refers to an episode of "Happy Days" whose preposterous plot destroyed all of its remaining goodwill among viewers.) And Brian Switek, on the National Geographic site, did his best to put the unfortunate broadcast in perspective, saying of it and other fantasy beasts, "We made the monsters."

Events like this always remind me of Goethe's saying, "Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action."

Related:
C. megalodon tooth at Sharktooth Hill fossil grounds
10 facts about Megalodon
Geology in the movies
Megalodon tooth from Sharktooth Hill — Geology Guide photo

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