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Reconstructed megalodon skeleton in Maryland // CC BY-SA 3.0
Reconstructed megalodon skeleton in Maryland // CC BY-SA 3.0

Megalodon Shark Tooth Discovered in Croatia

Reconstructed megalodon skeleton in Maryland // CC BY-SA 3.0
Reconstructed megalodon skeleton in Maryland // CC BY-SA 3.0

The megalodon shark occupies a shadowy realm between fact and fiction. The massive prehistoric fish, thought to reach lengths up to 60 feet, really did exist millions of years ago; it even has an official Latin name: Carcharodon/Carcharocles megalodon (which translates appropriately to “big tooth”). However, despite the Discovery Channel specials that coyly suggest the megalodon may still roam the underwater depths, scientists agree that the gargantuan predator is extinct today. That makes Stjepan Sucec’s discovery of a 14-inch shark tooth in Croatia’s Kupa River all the more exciting, because it’s almost certainly a remnant straight from a megolodon’s mouth.

Sucec, a resident of Pokupsko, a small village in central Croatia, was only out to gather shells when he made his big discovery. Although the waters of the Kupa are shallow enough to wade in some areas, the space was previously occupied by the Pannonian Sea—a body of water well suited to serve as the habitat of giant sharks. Compared to the teeth of great white sharks, thought to be the megalodon’s nearest living descendant, Sucec’s find seems comically oversize, dwarfing the two- to three-inch specimens. The purported megalodon tooth is also a glossy black, compared to a dull white—further evidence of its incredibly advanced age.

According to geologist Drazen Japundzic at Zagreb’s Natural History Museum, it’s a safe bet that the tooth really is one of the only existing bits of fossilized evidence that corroborates the megalodon’s existence. Being made primarily of cartilage, not many parts of the megalodon have survived the many millions of years between their time and ours; fossilized teeth are nearly all scientists have to go on. For now, Sucec’s lucky discovery remains in safe storage: a terrifying reminder of the enormous predators that once swam in the oceans, and a comforting assurance that such creatures are long gone.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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