The movie is about Jason Statham’s attempts to stop the rampage of an 18-metre long megalodon; a huge and ferocious species that roamed the seas 20 million years ago.
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Of course in real life they’re long extinct, but the film suggests that a small number are still alive off the coast of China.
Hans Sues, curator of vertebrate paleobiology at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, told Science magazine that it’s an entertaining film, but scientifically fundamentally flawed.
Asked if the megalodons could have evaded extinction by living and hiding at the bottom of the ocean, he said: “No way. That would be absolutely impossible and goes against everything we know about megalodons based on the fossil record.
“For starters, megalodons were found around the world, but only in warm coastal waters. They just aren’t adapted for deep ocean living.
“The water is too cold, food would be too scarce, and megalodons would need to modify their whole body shape to avoid being squashed by the enormous water pressure down there.
“Even if they were still around, it’s inconceivable that humans wouldn’t know about it. We’ve mapped the sea floor and have such advanced sensing technology. We would know if they were there.”
And on the movie’s conceit that there’s a warm ecosystem under a cloud of hydrogen, he added: “I don’t think there’s any evidence that such a thing would exist.
“And plus, it would be lethal to anything that would go through it. Because a cloud of hydrogen sulfide, particularly in dissolved form, would be a terrible thing to go through.
“I think even a big shark like that couldn’t do that without harm to its physiology.”
Still, Sues said a few elements are actually correct – such as the jaws and teeth, and the fact that it could feasibly have rammed into ships and underwater subs, had they existed at the same time.
He also revealed that its ability to bite a whole ship in half is overall realistic.
The Meg has had middling-to-weak reviews from critics and currently has a 50% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
New York Post said in a one-star review: “It’s not fun, it’s not serious, it’s not scary. It is stupid.”
Entertainment Weekly were a little more generous, calling it “ridiculous, cheesy popcorn fun.”
The Meg is out on Friday.