Shark week: Expedition Unknown gives us an idea of what happened to the Meg

Great White Shark taking bait in Gansbaai, South Africa. -- Photo courtesy of Discovery
Great White Shark taking bait in Gansbaai, South Africa. -- Photo courtesy of Discovery /

Shark Week kicked off with an episode of Expedition Unknown. Josh Gates took us around the world to find out what could have happened to The Meg.

You’ve heard about The Meg. The prehistoric shark was the main antagonist in the movie of the same name, leaving the likes of Jason Statham to figure out how to deal with the situation. However, the real shark has been extinct for millions of years and Shark Week gives you a chance to find out why.

Expedition Unknown with Josh Gates takes you through the potential reasons for the Meg to no longer be the T-Rex of the oceans. And while the episode started where you would think (in the ocean), there is a moment where you’re somewhere you would never expect to find anything sea life. Josh went to the desert.

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As many will know, the deserts used to be underwater, so finding shark teeth around these areas isn’t all that uncommon or unexpected. What Josh didn’t expect to find was a full-sized adult Meg tooth. It’s the proof needed to know that the Meg was around, but what it doesn’t tell us is why the Meg became extinct.

What researchers do know is that shortly before the Meg became extinct, its main food source, the whales, were dying out. The Meg needed to find another food source, which meant turning to seals. And there were other sharks that ate those creatures. Could one of those sharks have been the reason?

After first looking at the Mako Shark and ruling it out, Josh went to look at the largest shark in the ocean right now, the Great White. Shark Week viewers got a chance to see the Great White in action, looking at how the creatures grab their prey (the seals don’t stand a chance) and the speed at which Great Whites can travel.

It turns out a Great White can travel at around 35mph, slightly more than the average speed of a seal. The Meg, on the other hand, would have traveled at speeds of around 15mph due to its size. The Meg did size in at 12ft high and 60ft long. The bulk would have slowed it down.

And this is where Josh and the team of experts on Expedition Unknown believe the Meg suffered. The Great White was faster, able to grab seals before the Meg. Added in the fact that the Great White can survive on one seal a week while the Meg would have needed multiple seals a day, and you’ve got a far superior creature. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to speed and calorie needs.

The evidence isn’t conclusive right now. As technology improves, we’ll likely learn more details. Right now, we can just go off research of the day and fossilized teeth since sharks are made of carbon and break down in the earth instead of leaving bones to fossilize. However, the evidence looks good that it was the Great White Shark that caused the end of the Meg.

Shark Week 2019 schedule: What to expect throughout the week. dark. Next

What did you think of the first night of Shark Week? What did you learn from Expedition Unknown? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Shark Week continues throughout this week on Discovery, picking up with Sharks of the Badlands at 8 p.m. tonight.