Megalodon exhibit coming to Exploration Place

You've heard of Bigfoot. Well, Bigtooth has arrived at Exploration Place, and the public can see an exhibit about him —"the largest shark that ever lived" — starting Saturday.

Megalodon (pronounced MEG-uh-luh-dawn) was a prehistoric shark that is imagined to have been 60 feet long and 12 feet high — the size of the metal open-framework model that visitors can walk through in the exhibit that will run through May 1. It is included in general museum admission.

Visitors also can stand before casts of megalodon jaws spiked with real megalodon teeth for a sense of what it would be like to be — if your imagination ran that way — swallowed whole.

Megalodon means "giant tooth," and this giant shark's teeth could be as big as a man's hands. He ate whales for dinner, and, in the exhibit, you can see just how much tuna it would have taken to fill him up.

Shark skeletons are composed of cartilage, not bone, so there are no fossils of their bodies. But fossils of megalodon teeth have been found all over the world. An upper tooth from a megalodon found in Georgia is for sale in the gift shop at Exploration Place for $500, and Christina Bluml of Exploration Place said it is estimated to be 15 million years old.

"Sharks are fascinating to everyone," Bluml said, and visitors can learn about other types at the exhibit as well, from prehistoric to current-day.

People who visit Exploration Place on the exhibit's opening day can also take part in a "mega-birthday party" celebrating Kansas' 150th birthday on Saturday. The celebration starts at 12:30 p.m. with the singing of "Happy Birthday" to the state and the serving of cake in the shape of the state.

Fossils from Kansas' ancient ocean also will be on display, and Mike Everhart of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays will be on hand to talk with visitors about them.

A live science show called "Shark Attack!" is also part of the megalodon exhibit on weekends, at noon and 3 p.m. Saturdays, and at noon Sundays starting Feb. 6.