Megalodon, (Carcharocles megalodon), member of an extinct species of megatooth shark (Otodontidae) that is considered to be the largest shark, as well as the largest fish, that ever lived. Fossils attributed to megalodon have been found dating from the early Miocene Epoch (which began 23.03 million years ago) to the end of the Pliocene Epoch (2.58 million years ago). The word megalodon, a compound of Greek root words, means “giant tooth.”
“Megalodon” is the common name for Otodus megalodon*, a truly gigantic predatory shark that went extinct long ago. Thanks to urban legends, and the popularity of movies like The Meg, Megalodon is once again in the public eye. We’re here to help separate the fact from the fiction and help dispel the myths about this giant prehistoric shark. *The older name Carcharocles megalodon, is still commonly used in literature you might come across.
A shadowy shape is visible in the distance, just under the surface of the ocean. The shadow swims closer, revealing itself to be a shark—an incredibly massive shark. Weighing as much as 30 large great white sharks, the megalodon is one frightening-looking fish. Luckily, it went extinct some 2.5 million years ago, so you don’t have to worry about seeing one today!
Physical Features Of A Megalodon
Megalodon was the largest fish ever known, a designation based on discoveries of hundreds of fossil teeth and a handful of vertebrae. Tooth-shape similarities between megalodon and modern great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) suggest that the two species may have been close relatives, and thus megalodon likely resembled that species in appearance—that is, as a bulky torpedo-shaped fish with a conical snout, large pectoral and dorsal fins, and a strong crescent-shaped tail. Estimates of body length are calculated using the statistical relationship between the size of megalodon’s fossil teeth and the teeth and body mass of modern white sharks and other living relatives. This data suggests that mature adult megalodons had a mean length of 10.2 metres (about 33.5 feet), the largest specimens measuring 17.9 metres (58.7 feet) long. Some scientists, however, contend that the largest forms may have measured up to 25 metres (82 feet) long. Studies estimate that adult body mass ranged from roughly 30 metric tons (1 metric ton = 1,000 kg; about 66,000 pounds) to more than 65 metric tons (about 143,000 pounds), adult females being larger (in both length and mass) than adult males.
- The Megalodon went extinct 2.6 million years ago. This extinction is primarily attributed to a changing environment and cooling oceans worldwide.
- Megalodon could reach a maximum length of 50-60 feet long. Compare that to the largest great white sharks which reach a maximum size of 21 feet.
- The Megalodon’s primary prey was large sea mammals such as whales, sea cows and sea lions.
- The largest Megalodon tooth ever found is 7.48 inches though teeth over 6 inches are very rare. The largest great white teeth were less than 3 inches.
- Megalodon teeth are measured on the slant, using the longest side as the length.
- Megalodon’s and all sharks shed their teeth frequently during their lifetime’s as they grew or teeth became worn. It’s estimated that a fully grown adult shark may go through up to 20k teeth during it’s lifetime. This is also the reason smaller Megalodon teeth (<3 inches) are relatively common.
- Megalodon teeth are often collected by scuba divers from rivers and off the coast where there have eroded out of the rock formations. They are much rarer and harder to find at most land based sites.
- Megalodon teeth are very heavy because they’ve been fossilized, that is the original material which made up the tooth as been replaced by minerals.
- Other fossil bones of Megalodon and other sharks almost never preserved as fossils because their skeletons were made out of cartilage.
- Fossil megalodon teeth were officially designated at the state fossil of North Carolina in 2013.
Why Do Fossil Megalodon Teeth Come In So Many Different Colors?
The color of a fossil shark tooth has nothing to do with the original color of the teeth which would have been white like modern day shark teeth. The color comes from the minerals that replaced the tooth during the fossilization process or leached into the tooth post fossilization. Coloration tends to be distinctive to different collecting localities due to mineral content in the ground or natural processes that the fossil has undergone post fossilization. For example teeth collected from water tend to be less colorful (straight black or tan) because the water has leached minerals from the tooth over thousands of years
How Much Does A Megalodon Weigh In Tons?
Size & Strength
The megalodon was a massive shark. The largest were roughly 60 feet in length and attained perhaps up to 50 tons, the size and weight of a railroad car. Female megalodons were, on average larger, at about 44 to 56 feet (13-17 m) and males were about 34 to 47 feet (10-14 m).
How Much Did The Biggest Megalodon Weigh?
The Megalodon Shark Was The Largest Predator That Ever Lived. Reaching lengths of up to 60-70 feet and an estimated maximum weight of over 60 tons, the Megalodon is the largest known predator in Earth’s history.
Can Megalodons Still Exist?
But could megalodon still exist? ‘No. It’s definitely not alive in the deep oceans, despite what the Discovery Channel has said in the past,’ notes Emma. … The sharks would leave telltale bite marks on other large marine animals, and their huge teeth would continue littering the ocean floors in their tens of thousands.
Are Megalodons Still Alive In 2021?
Megalodon is NOT alive today, it went extinct around 3.5 million years ago. Go to the Megalodon Shark Page to learn the real facts about the largest shark to ever live, including the actual research about it’s extinction.
What If Megalodon Was Still Alive?
For starters, if megalodon sharks still roamed our oceans, the last place they’d be going would be the Mariana Trench! … Unlike humans, who only produce teeth during the early stages of life, sharks continue to produce new sets throughout their entire lives, losing their teeth almost every two weeks.
Is There A Real Megalodon Fossil?
Fossil remains of megalodon have been found in shallow tropical and temperate seas along the coastlines and continental shelf regions of all continents except Antarctica.
What Caused Megalodon To Go Extinct?
These studies suggested that shifting food-chain dynamics may have been the primary factor in megalodon’s demise, as the availability of its primary food source, baleen whales, decreased and the numbers of its competitors—smaller predatory sharks (such as the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias) and whales (such …
Was There A Shark Bigger Than Megalodon?
Its name was Livyatan, and it was a ferocious competitor to megalodon. Livyatan was about the same size as the massive shark, weighing an estimated 100,000 pounds and reaching up to 57 feet in length.
Did Megalodon Really Bite Whales In Half?
Megalodon certainly had a strong bite – estimated to be the strongest bite force of any animal. However, they did not typically bite prey in half – their strong bite force was used to bite off the tails and fins of larger prey to immobilise them.