The Largest Shark…
In the History of the World
Megalodon, Carcharocles megalodon, was one of the largest predators to ever live. The name Megalodon means “big tooth” They grew up to sixty (60) feet long and weighed over sixty (60) tons—three times the size of the largest great white sharks. Megalodon fossils have so far only been found in teeth and vertebrae, the teeth grew to up to almost seven and a half inches but were usually three to four inches long. Their teeth were originally thought to be the petrified tongue of a dragon or giant snake, but in 1667 Nicolas Steno, a Dane, recognized them for what they were. He wrote about his findings in a book called The Head of a Shark Dissected.
Megalodon was so large it would eat whales and other massive prey such as sea cows and giant turtles and was large enough to eat almost anything it came across, smaller Megalodon and other sharks were likely on the menu as well, even Giant Squid. The great Livyatan, an ancient Sperm Whale larger than the Blue Whale wasn’t exempt from . They would bite the tail or flippers off the great whales and turtles, rendering them immobile, and the shark could then dine at leisure. Their huge jaws had an estimated bite force of up to 40,000 psi (pounds per square inch), which is ten times as much as the great white, and more than double the strongest bite force known, the Orca with a bite of 19,000 psi.
Evolution of Megalodon
Megalodon began evolving around 28 million years ago, from another species of shark found in the fossil record of Morocco, Otodus obliquus. This evolution is evident by the increase in the serrations and size of the teeth, and the disappearance of the cusps present on Otodus. Some paleobiologists contest this theory, instead proposing that Otodus and megalodon evolved separately from a common ancestor.
Megalodon had four kinds of teeth in its jaw, anterior, intermediate, lateral, and posterior. These teeth would regularly fall out and be replaced by another waiting tooth, with at least 4 rows of teeth. This gave megalodon over 250 teeth altogether in its jaw, which could span more than 10 feet across. The largest jaw reconstruction ever is currently on display at our Tucson showroom, and is available for sale to interested buyers.
Extinction of the Megalodon
Megalodons went extinct around 2.6 million years ago, which is quite a bit more recent than any of the dinosaurs we know today. These fossilized Megalodon teeth are the only remains we have of them because their cartilage built bodies did not fossilize well, however, their massive teeth have been found worldwide. Megalodons are believed to have given birth to live young in shallow seas where the young could grow in size eating fish and turtles before heading out to the open ocean to live life as an adult eating larger cetaceans.
The megalodon went extinct as a result of cooling seas from the onset of the ice ages, lowering the sea level and ruining the shallow water megalodon nurseries. Competition from large cetaceans (marine mammals) also may have contributed to the demise of the Megalodon. Popular television shows use questionable evidence to claim that the Megalodon has survived undetected for three (3) million years, but this appears to be nothing more than a poor attempt to gain viewers.