The Sternberg Museum dispels shark myths through Megalodon


The Sternberg Museum, home to tortoises, rocks, and fossilized creatures of long ago, has become the host of the largest shark to have ever lived.

Visitors have nothing to fear in visiting the Megalodon exhibit: this prehistoric shark vanished from the oceans two million years ago.

However, the museum does have its teeth, which are the size of a fist, on display as well as casts of its massive jaws. Also in the exhibit is a life-size, metal frame of the shark.

“It’s about sixty feet in length, kind of modeling so it’s about the size of a large bus,” said Rachel Unruh, who works in marketing for the Sternberg Museum, “and you can drive a small car like a smart car in its mouth.”

According to Unruh, this traveling exhibit was designed to teach visitors the truth about an animal that popular culture has twisted out of proportion.

“They wanted to showcase, out of this exhibit, the true facts of Megalodon because everyone has seen Jaws or The Meg and they’re like, ‘Oh my God! The shark might still be alive and it might be big and scary,’ and actually that’s not true,” she said.

In fact, part of the exhibit shows how the Megalodon exists in pop culture, from movies to clothing.

The truth about this shark is that it was the result of its environment.

“Part of the reason why Megalodon got this big,” said Unruh, “is during that period of time, [the earth] had a boom of life so you krill and plankton and other small creature producing more.”

According to her, this abundance of food is what caused the shark as well as other animals to grow to such a large size.

The exhibit also describes other aspects of the Megalodon. This ranges from its place in myths from across the globe to the modern sharks to which it’s related. This includes interactive portions that allow visitors to take a close look at shark vertebrae and teeth.

The exhibit also describes how the shark vanished from the world’s oceans. This was in part due to changing water temperatures.

Unruh, in discussing how scientists know that the shark is extinct, mentioned that there is no evidence that this animal, once found in waters across the world, is alive. Environment again plays a part in this.

“Our environment would not be able to support a shark at this length,” she said.

One of the most important points that the Megalodon exhibit makes is about shark conservation. It serves as a way to educate people on the truths about these fish.

“I think their biggest takeaway is I hope they learn that sharks aren’t as scary as people think they are,” Unruh said.

For those interested in learning more about sharks and the Megalodon, the Sternberg’s exhibit will be open until September 2, 2019.

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