SOLOMONS, MD – May 20, 2022 – In honor of National Megalodon Day (June 15), Calvert Marine Museum will host international lecturer Jack Cooper for a virtual presentation on Megalodon: The morphology and ecology on 2D and 3D modeling; and the importance of this iconic species in studying shark functional diversity. The virtual lecture will take place on Wednesday, June 15, at 6 p.m. via Zoom (invitation link below).

A great diversity of sharks have roamed the oceans for millions of years, performing various ecological roles – most famously as apex predators. Among such past sharks was the biggest shark that ever lived: the 20 m megalodon. Its enormous teeth have become iconic fossils in paleontology, found worldwide, including in Maryland. With no complete skeletons yet known, scientists are forced to use modern sharks and what little they have of the fossilized skeleton to infer this giant’s morphology and ecology. Now, a 2D reconstruction based on living sharks, and a new 3D reconstruction based on an exceptionally preserved vertebral column, have revealed unprecedented new clues about how this shark moved and ate. Are any living sharks appropriate analogs to this giant? How did the diet of whales affect their movement or energy intake? Can we even be sure what it looked like without a complete skeleton? And how does modeling an extinct apex predator help us study shark functional diversity as a whole – in the past, present or future?   

Jack Cooper is a Ph.D. researcher at Swansea University (Wales, UK) investigating sharks’ functional diversity and ecology through time using the fossil record. Originating from Scotland, Jack received his bachelor’s degree in Evolutionary Biology from the University of St. Andrews and his master’s degree in Paleobiology from the University of Bristol. Despite expanding his horizons to a whole range of Cenozoic sharks for his Ph.D., Jack continues to study the morphology and ecology of megalodon keenly; the biggest shark that ever lived – resulting in his first paper in 2020; and several more in development. This iconic shark is very often the center of Jack’s outreach activities. He has appeared on several podcasts, radio and news interviews, and a documentary promoting this animal’s wide and ongoing research. Additionally, he has also worked in ecotourism and conservation in South Africa, where he has caged dived with great white sharks. Jack is funded by the Fisheries Society of the British Isles and is a member of the Pimiento Research Group, which aims to understand better the extinction mechanisms sharks faced in the past and to use that knowledge to inform conservation efforts for today’s sharks. He is also a cat person. 

Topic: Fossil Shark Lecture

Time: Jun 15, 2022 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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