Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is back and some of its programs claim that the prehistoric megalodon shark is still alive.
The channel made waves last year when it aired a special called “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives” that took viewers on a search for a massive killer great white shark responsible for a rash of fatalities off the coast of South Africa.
“One controversial scientist believes that the shark responsible could be Megalodon, a 60-foot relative of the great white that is one of the largest and most powerful predators in history,” said the Discovery Channel in its description.
“Our oceans remain 95 percent unexplored, and this massive prehistoric predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, but after a rash of newly discovered evidence, authorities are forced to investigate whether this predator, long thought to be extinct, could still be lurking in our deepest oceans. A crew of scientists and shark experts examine evidence.”
Now the channel is actually airing some of the same footage–but in what it’s calling an extended version.
That two-hour episode will air on Friday night at 8 p.m. EDT.
Afterward, there’s an episode called “Megalodon: The New Evidence.”
“Collin Drake returns to share new details of his case and present the shocking new evidence of the existence of Megalodon, an enormous prehistoric shark that could still be roaming the oceans,” according to the Discovery Channel.
Figures 1a, 1b, 1c, 2, and 3 are teeth from a Megalodon. (Maryland Geological Survey)
In this photo taken May 6, 2010, University of Florida vertebrate paleontology graduate student Dana Ehret compares the size of a juvenile megalodon tooth from the Gatun Formation, Panama, left, with an adult megalodon tooth from Florida. Ehret co-authored a National Science Foundation-funded study appearing in the journal PLoS One describing the first Neotropical megalodon shark nursery. (Jeff Gage/Florida Museum of Natural History)
Size comparison of Carcharodon carcharias (Great White Shark, 6m), Rhincodon typus (Whale Shark, 12m) and conservative/maximum estimates of the largest known adult size of Carcharodon megalodon (16-20m), with a human Homo sapiens. (Matt Martyniuk/Wikimedia Commons)
This animation from the Discovery Channel illustrated what a megalodon shark would have looked like when alive.
One of the world’s largest set of shark jaws comprised of about 180 fossil teeth from the prehistoric species, Carcharocles megalodon, which grew to the size of a school bus, is displayed at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino September 30, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This picture shows a giant Carcharodon Megalodon shark jaw before being sold during an auction at Christie’s house in Paris on April 7, 2009, as part of a collection of prehistoric fossils. (AFP/Getty Images)
A tooth of an extinct giant shark called ‘Carcharodon megalodon’ found by paleontologists during a project to recover fossils during the Panama Canal expansion, is displayed after a news conference in Panama City, Friday, April 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
Children of a kindergarten admire the giant mouth of a primeval Megalodon shark model at the Natural History Museum in Schleusingen, central Germany, Friday, July 4, 2014. The model is part of the special exhibition ‘Sharks.’ (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
The network is also airing a program called “Sharkzilla” on Monday at 4 p.m., which will see a team including the Mythbusters construct a 52-foot mechanical megalodon, bringing it to life “just to see what it can really do.”
Many viewers became upset last year over the megalodon programming, saying that it was fake, like the now infamous mermaid specials that the channel presented.
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, Megalodons were the largest sharks to have ever lived, but they vanished about 2 million years ago.
They had 46 front row teeth, 24 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower jaw. Most sharks have at least six rows of teeth, so a Megalodon had about 276 teeth at any given time. The sharks could grow 60 to 70 feet in length and up to 77 tons in weight, according to the Smithsonian.
By some estimates, Megalodons ate about 2,500 pounds of food every day, including fish and whales. A fossil at the National Museum of History illustrates how the shark could have eaten several humans at the same time.
These sharks lived about 25 million years ago to 1.5 million years ago. And why did they become extinct?
“It is believed that during the rapid climate change of the Ice Age, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of large whales that Megalodon fed upon,” according to the Florida museum. “This, along with competition from other predators (sharks) eventually led to the demise of the Megalodon.”
“When this shark lived, the world was forming into the one we now recognize—the Himalayas and Rockies were growing, the Isthmus of Panama rose from the sea to separate the Atlantic and Pacific, then massive glaciation locked much of the world’s water in ice,” added the Smithsonian. “Everything was changing for the big sharks, possibly including what they ate and where they raised their kids, and they just couldn’t survive in the new world.” It notes that “Rumors of megalodon’s survival persist on the Internet, but no live specimen, or even fresh teeth, has ever been found, making it pretty unlikely that this shark still exists.”
Researchers from the Florida museum discovered a 10-million-year-old nursery area for Megalodons in Panama, and found many of the shark species’ big, sharp teeth at the site.