PANAMA CITY, Panama, May 20 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say the discovery of an ancient shark nursery in Panama might mean juvenile giant sharks probably spent their younger years in shallow water.
"Adult giant sharks (Carcharocles megalodon), at 60-70 feet in length, faced few predators, but young sharks faced predation from larger sharks," said Catalina Pimiento, visiting scientist from the University of Florida at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. "As in several modern shark species, juvenile giant sharks probably spent this vulnerable stage of their lives in shallow water where food was plentiful and large predators had difficulty maneuvering."
Paleontologists from the Smithsonian and the University of Florida collected more than 400 fossil shark teeth from Panama's 10-million-year-old Gatun Formation. Pimiento said the 28 teeth researchers identified as C. megalodon were mostly from neonates and juveniles.
"Very little is known about the life cycle of this giant shark that ruled the oceans not so long ago. Now we think that the young spent their first years close to the coast among mangroves," said STRI staff scientist Carlos Jaramillo.
The research appears in the online journal PLoS One.