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Published:January 28th, 2009 14:01 EST

Megalodon: Age of Petite or Puny

By Clinton Van Inman



Have you ever noticed how really big living things were in the past?  I am not just talking about dinosaurs, but everything up until the end of the Pleistocene Age.  A creature the size of a Plesiosaur is quite unimaginable.  As an avid fossil hunter in Florida I too like everyone else get excited when I find a Megalodon tooth.  These sharks were as big as a school bus and would make Jaws look like a guppy.  But nature did not abandon the notion her love of the idea that bigger means better in the Cretaceous Period.  Even in the Pleistocene Period we find creatures that are really huge.  There were giant crocodiles, mammoths, tigers, bears and tree sloths.  It is doubtful that we could last one day in the wild if we could be transported back in time to this era.  The relative of armadillos, not the puny road kill variety we find today, we as big as cars and were protected by body armor. 


I have always been fascinated with nature`s love of huge things and why and when the biological world figured out that size was not a guarantee to survival.  Why did animals become smaller instead of remaining large?  There is no agreed answer amongst paleontologists, though most agree it must be explained through Natural Selection.  Greatness in size guaranteed survival and dominance for millions of years, then suddenly the idea become obsolete.  All the creatures today seem puny and pint sized compared to previous stages, though we do have a few anomalies such as blue whales.  But nature was not working on any grand plan nor was she selecting any species for extinction because there is no plan and no nature, only dull sounds of adaptation and survival.  Animals became smaller because it was easier to burrow, to run and hide, to scurry, and to climb and scavenge. Also, and probably more importantly, smaller animals reproduce at a faster rate thus guaranteeing a better survival rate.  So, looking for a name to call our modern geological time?  How about the Age of Puny Primates?