Megalodon Shark : Facts vs Fiction
Did the Megalodon Shark actually exist?
Megalodon Sharks were a massive species of sharks that lived millions of years ago. They were the largest sharks ever alive! The Megalodon Sharks were powerful and frightening. They were also one of the biggest fish that roamed the oceans. Don’t worry though; they are now extinct, so you don’t have to think about it biting you!
When did the Megalodon live?
Megalodon Sharks lived from around 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago (mya), in almost all the oceans of the world. They lived during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs of the Neogene Period.
A Megalodon Shark looked like the Great White Shark but only much bigger and stronger. The nose of the Megalodon Shark was less pointy than a Great White Shark. Megalodons had long pectoral fins. This is because they had to support their large body while swimming through the oceans. Pectoral fins are the ones on both sides of a fish, behind their head.
How Big is a Megalodon?
The Megalodon Sharks, as mentioned earlier, were the largest fish to ever live, and so they were huge in size. The largest length of a Megalodon Shark was approximately 82 feet or 25 meters. On average, they were approximately 59 feet or 18 meters, which is still very big.
The size of the Megalodon Shark changes depending on which part of the world they lived in. The average size of these fish could have been around 30 to 35 feet, 8 to 12 meters for sure.
The weight of the Megalodon Sharks depended upon their size. Their average weight was between 50 to 75 tons!
Megalodon Shark vs Blue Whale vs Whale Shark vs Great White
As far as size goes, they are amongst the biggest species of the ocean. Let’s see how Megalodon Sharks compare to Blue Whales, Whale Sharks, and Great White Sharks.
Megalodon Sharks can grow up to 40 meters long. This is bigger than the sizes of Whale Sharks and Great White Sharks combined! The only one that is bigger than the Megalodon shark on this chart is the Blue Whale. It is the largest mammal alive and almost twice the size of a Megalodon.
Also Read: Whale shark facts for kids
Megalodon Tooth Size
How many teeth does a megalodon have?
A grown Megalodon shark has 276 teeth along its jaw. Since sharks do not have any bones, all our information of the Megalodon’s size comes from the teeth fossils. Megalodons had sharp teeth, and the size of each tooth was around 19 centimeters or 8 inches.
Paleontologists have also studied the bite force of a Megalodon shark that is 108,514 to 182,201 newtons! For comparison, humans have a bite force of around 1,317 newtons. So, you can guess how powerful the teeth of a Megalodon shark are.
How did the Megalodon get its name?
The reason why Megalodons have that name is that ‘megalodon’, in Greek, means ‘giant tooth’! Since Megalodon sharks had large teeth, the name is very suitable.
What did the Megalodon eat?
Megalodon Sharks were carnivores. They used to eat other oceanic creatures such as whales, dolphins, seals. They even ate other smaller sharks. They hunted big or medium-sized whales in their bony areas such as chest, fins, or tails with their sharp bite. Megalodons could have also preyed on large whales like sperm whales, bowhead whales.
Megalodons were huge in size and fast in speed. To maintain themselves, they had to eat as much as 1500 to 3000 pounds of food every day!
Where did the Megalodon live?
Megalodon sharks were all across the world. We know that because we can find the teeth of the Megalodon in fossils. These fossils are in Australia, North America, South America, Africa, and Europe. Some fossils are even in countries such as India, Japan. Many fossils have also been at places that are now at a height, and far away from water. This shows that when the Megalodons were alive, these places were underwater. That is how the teeth fossilized in these areas.
Megalodon Scientific classification
Megalodon shark’s scientific name is Carcharocles megalodon (which means ‘big-toothed glorious shark’). Megalodons can be members of the family Lamnidae. They are close relatives of the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). But, even today there are many debates that it belongs to the extinct family Otodontidae.
Researchers are still not sure about its genus and some believe it should be in Otodus. Others believe it should be Carcharocles, Megaselachus, or even Procarcharodon.
Depending on how we classify it, the megalodon’s scientific name can be Otodus megalodon or even Carcharocles megalodon.
Was the Megalodon a dinosaur?
Megalodons were not dinosaurs. They were members of an extinct species of the Megatooth shark (Otodontidae). In fact, even though Megalodons and dinosaurs are both extinct, they never coexisted. Dinosaurs had already been dead for millions of years before Megalodons were alive!
Megalodons were Cannibals
Megalodons are cannibals. A new study says that Megalodons ate their siblings inside their mother’s womb. This is like the present-day lamniform sharks. They too feed on the unhatched eggs inside their mother’s womb. Scientists call this ‘oophagy’. They believe it was important for the Megalodon babies to do so to be born stronger and bigger. This is so that they can compete with fellow predatory fish in the ocean.
How did the Megalodons go extinct?
We know that the Megalodons became extinct by the end of the Pliocene period around 2.6 million years ago. There are many theories on how the Megalodon sharks became extinct. One theory believes that this happened due to a sharp drop in the earth’s temperature. The global cooling and drying across the world disturbed the food chain. The scarcity of whales and other prey of the Megalodons became less. Megalodons didn’t have enough to eat, and they became extinct.
Megalodon in Popular culture
Megalodons are very popular in pop cultures, such as movies and documentaries. The Megalodons star in many books, films, etc., and continue to be a popular subject, even after many years. In a 2003 TV documentary series called Sea Monsters, Megalodons are “a hazard” of the era. There are many films that feature Megalodons as well, such as Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. Even the Mega Shark series (such as Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus and Mega Shark Versus Crocosaurus) is very popular.
Steve Alten’s novel Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (2011) shows Megalodons preying on dinosaurs. The sequels to the book also feature the Megalodon such as The Trench, Meg: Primal Waters, Meg: Hell’s Aquarium, Meg: Nightstalkers, Meg: Generations, and Meg: Origins. There was also a film adaptation called The Meg (2018).
Amazing Facts about the Megalodon
- A megalodon’s bite was so powerful that it could crush a car.
- Megalodon’s teeth are as big as a TV remote.
- The bite force of a Megalodon Shark was 108,514 to 182,201 newtons, which is three times stronger than a T. Rex’s bite force!
- Parts of Megalodon teeth have been found in the fossilized remains of whales, which show that they preyed on whales.
- The largest Megalodon tooth ever found was 6.9 inches long. This is three times bigger than the average tooth of a present-day Great White shark.
- Fossil remains of the Megalodon shark have been found off the coast of every single continent except Antarctica.