Whales are considered to be the largest animal on the planet but a new study has found that it was the extinction of largest shark million of years ago that allowed the growth of whales in their size.
The researchers at the University of Florida (UF) and the University of Zurich have found that the gradual extinction of Megalodon sharks 2.6 million years ago led the whales to flourish and eventually become the largest animals on the Earth.
The scientists examined records of fossils and henceforth developed the theory.
According to the researcher group, the new study may assist the scientists to unveil more about the effects on environments after the removal of top-level predators. They also believe the study will help in better understanding about the disappearance of several shark species from many regions of the world as part of a global drop of biodiversity.
“When you remove large sharks, then small sharks are very abundant and they consume more of the invertebrates that we humans eat. Recent estimations show that large-bodied, shallow-water species of sharks are at greatest risk among marine animals, and the overall risk of shark extinction is substantially higher than for most other vertebrates,” said Catalina Pimiento, lead study author and a Phd student at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
The study showed that the evolution of large filter-feeder whales occurred almost at the same time when the giant shark went extinct. Hence, the researchers said there may be strong possibility that decline of Megalodon sharks may have led to the rise of giant whales.
Recently, rumours were abuzz that the Megalodon shark species that went extinct millions of years ago still exists in the remote regions. A recent television special by the Discovery Channel also suggested the animal’s existence in remote areas of the global ocean.
The researchers believe the study will help in putting an end to rumors about the extinction of Megalodon sharks or their existence today. Besides, the techniques used in the study will also be used by the scientists to research about other extinct plants and animals.
The study was published in the online journal Plos One.