In our latest post in a series covering Megalodon myths and false “facts” we will cover the claim that recent Megalodon teeth have been recovered in New Caledonia. The claim of Megalodon teeth dating between 11,000 and 24,000 years old being dredged up around this island is frequent fodder for conspiracy theory websites and has been repeatedly mentioned in the comments on our Facebook page. It even got air play from the Discovery Channel during their fake Megalodon documentaries and in blog posts promoting them.
New Caledonia is an island that lies in the SW Pacific Ocean about 750 miles east of Australia. Starting in the 1950’s large numbers of Megalodon teeth were dredged up by locals from the deep slopes of a reef surrounding the island. These teeth are heavily worn, having been eroded and reworked out of a what we now know are Miocene aged rock formations. Some of these teeth appear white in color (like modern shark teeth) due to the minerals that replaced the enamel during fossilization being leached during this reworking process. This white coloration helped lead to the initial claims that they were modern shark teeth and not fossils. Though, when you hold one of these teeth in your hands, it’s apparent they are heavily mineralized fossils and not recent teeth due to their density.
During the late 1950’s a study was published claiming to date these teeth to between 11,000 and 24,000 years old using Manganese dioxide dating techniques. This type of dating is considered invalid and inaccurate due to the reworking process these teeth went through. Basically, they ended up dating the age these teeth were redeposited, rather than the fossils themselves. Subsequent dating of these teeth using more modern dating techniques has put the most recent specimens from New Caledonia at at over 5 million years old.
Unfortunately, this study from the 1950’s continues to be referenced as “proof” of recent Megalodon teeth, despite the fact that the claims made in it have been scientifically invalidated for decades. There have NEVER been Megalodon teeth found and dated more recent than a couple million years. If there was the scientific community would be falling all over each to publish it and bath in the fame. But, that hasn’t stopped certain entities (cough, I’m talking about you Discovery Channel) from using invalided studies/data to mislead viewers in an attempt generate hype and ratings.