Of­fer­ing en­ter­tain­ment, but not sci­en­tific re­al­ity

The Enterprise - - Community Forum -

In spite of re­search in­di­cat­ing that mega­lodon be­came ex­tinct about two mil­lion years ago, this mon­strous apex preda­tor is still alive — in an even deeper sec­tion of the Mar­i­anas trench of the Pa­cific, con­cealed by a thick cloudy layer of hy­dro­gen sul­fide.

That is the premise of the ac­tion-packed movie “The Meg,” which, if you sus­pend be­lief in re­al­ity, is rol­lick­ing good fun.

Megs make it to the sur­face when this oth­er­wise con­fin­ing layer of sul­fide is breached by a res­cue sub­ma­rine. Along the way, you will learn that mega­lodon is at­tracted to lights (es­pe­cially flash­ing ones) and sub­mersibles, and as ex­pected, they don’t dis­crimi- nate be­tween good and bad guys, although pup­pies are al­ways safe.

For­tu­nately, Jack Mor­ris (Rainn Wil­son) saves the movie from tak­ing it­self too se­ri­ously.

As a pa­le­on­tol­o­gist who has pub­lished sci­en­tific pa­pers on the at­tack and feed­ing habits of mega­lodon, I was de­lighted to see that movie meg de­voured whales. We know that they did dur­ing the Miocene epoch be­cause of meg­tooth-marked fos­sil bones that we find along Calvert Cliffs. How­ever, how a huge preda­tor with a high meta­bolic rate and highly ac­tive life­style could sur­vive seven miles be­low the ocean sur­face in a warm en­vi­ron­ment (warm wa­ter holds less oxy­gen than cold wa­ter) where there are no or­gan­isms mak­ing oxy­gen, is just one of its sci­en­tific fa­tal flaws.

You can rest as­sured that mega­lodon is no more alive in the deep­est ocean trenches than Tyran­nosaurus rex is still alive in Mon­tana. Just to see mega­lodon in ac­tion, I’d watch the movie again and would give it a 7 out of 10.

When we re­open in the spring af­ter our cur­rent ren­o­va­tions, come to the Calvert Ma­rine Mu­seum to see our re­con­structed life-size skele­ton of mega­lodon and our re­cently ac­quired mega­lodon jaws sport­ing 135 real meg teeth. Both will in­spire won­der and awe.

Stephen J. God­frey, Lusby

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