If the scale model is to be believed, walking into the mouth of the biggest shark to ever swim the oceans of Earth is not unlike boarding a PATCO Speedline car.
It's far more comfortable, of course, and as it's a model, doesn't offer any of the requisite gnashing of teeth and rending of meaty bits that you might find in the shark—but the effect leaves no less of an impact. You know, with no uncertainty, that you're in the presence of an apex predator.
"Megalodon—The Largest Shark that Ever Lived" is a 5000 square-foot traveling exhibit from the Florida Museum of Natural History that's on display at Adventure Aquarium through Sept. 3. The display includes fossils, models, castings of shark jaws, and some interesting facts about the gigantic fish.
For 15 million years, scientists estimate, megalodon dominated the seven seas, dining on whales, large fish, and other sharks. Their teeth were collected by ancient civilizations that believed them to be relics of their ancestor gods. But as cooling oceans moved whales away from the seas in which they were to be found, megalodon, too, disappeared.
The exhibit is enjoyable enough, but the aquarium itself remains an exciting attraction in its own right. Its indoor exhibits host a variety of marine species, with special, child-friendly touch tanks; its outdoor exhibits feature seals, penguins, puffins, and other marine fowl.
For shark fans, there's no greater thrill than the 40-foot transparent shark tunnel, which affords a view inside the 550,000 gallon tank that houses the aquarium's 20 sharks—including the only two hammerheads currently on display in the country. It's a great nightcap to the annual Discovery Channel Shark Week festivities, and it's only a few minutes up the road.