The Biggest Shark in History: Megalodon

Who hasn’t heard of sharks, amirite? What most people don’t know is that currently there are more than 500 different shark species living in the world today. Currently discovered shark fossils date back to more than 400 million years – that’s older than earliest dinosaurs or most other species. Most people know about The Great White Shark, for example, and how dangerous this shark is. However, there are many shark species that have gone extinct that have been way bigger and more dangerous than the great white. And the biggest and baddest of them all is the infamous Megalodon. We simply have to discuss this enormous shark with this the biggest shark in history: megalodon article.

Size

Megalodon size comparisson. Image credits: ravingraven

First of all, Like I’ve mentioned, megalodon was the biggest shark of all time. But just how big was it?

Well, it’s we can’t know for sure, but based on the fossil findings, mainly teeth, it probably was about 18 to 21 meters or 60 to 70 feet in length. New born megalodons probably were as long as cows.

It’s estimated that fully grown megalodons probably weighed about 60 tons or 120000 pounds. There’s also estimates that they weighed about 70 tons or 140000 pounds.

If we take the largest estimates as the most accurate ones, that means that megalodons were quite a bit longer longer than standard school buses and weighed more than 10 grown African Elephants.

But it gets better. Remember then we said that megalodons’ teeth were used to approximate their size. Well, turns out that we have found quite a bit of their teeth and they are pretty ginormous, to say the least. Largest found megalodon teeth were about 19 cm or 7.5 inches long. In the history of Earth, there have only been a handful of species with teeth that exceeded 18 cm or 7 inches. Great whites, for example, have teeth that are about 7.5 cm or slightly less than 3 inches long.

But it gets even better. They had more than 250 teeth in their jaws, lined up in 5 rows. It’s estimated that grown megalodons had jaws that spanned about 2 meters or 6.6 feet across. And, it is theorized, that they were able to open their jaws at a 100 degree angle when attacking or just eating.

Appearance

Megalodon’s jaw and a modern great white shark recontruction. Image credits:BubblesSayingDecent

What did megalodons look like?

While it’s not entirely known how did megalodons look, it’s widely speculated that they looked a lot like the modern great white sharks, except much larger. The overall structure of their bodies and even their pigments probably resembled these modern beasts, just with entirely higher proportions. But this is a speculation. We’re not done with this biggest shark in history: megalodon article.

Life And Extinction

When did megalodons live and why did they go extinct?

It is estimated that megalodons lived about 23 to 3.6 million years ago (Early Miocene to the Pliocene eras).

While it’s not entirely known why did they go extinct, it is widely speculated that they went extinct during an ancient ice age. You see, the Earth’s climate is in an ever changing state, it has warm and cold periods. And then cold periods start, huge amounts of water turn into ice and this results in sea levels going down. That means that certain marine animals have to leave certain shallow areas and migrate. It is thought that different species of whales, dolphins and many other fish and marine mammals that megalodons relied on for food began migrating to areas that megalodons could go to. This forced megalodons to begin eating their own children to temporarily survive and ultimately resulted in megalodons starving to death and not having any offspring. It is not completely guaranteed that this is what happened, but it is widely thought to be the case.

Location

Where did megalodons live?

Megalodons actually seemed to have lived all over the world. Their fossils have been found in Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Australia. They seemed to have preferred subtropical and temperate latitudes.

Diet

Megalodon’s tooth (not the biggest one). Image credits: WullieBlake

What did megalodons eat?

Again, it’s speculative, but it is widely thought that megalodons ate various species of whales, dolphins, other sharks and other large fish. They were most definitely very large apex predators in their domain.

It is thought that megalodons had to eat about 1,136 kilograms or 2500 pounds of food a day to maintain their size, strength and health.

A Few Fun Megalodon Facts:

  • The name “megalodon” translates to “big tooth”.
  • Modern sperm whales are longer than megalodons were, but not as heavy.

Conclusion

Megalodons weren’t just the largest sharks ever discovered, they also were the largest fish ever discovered. They were enormous sea and ocean dwelling predators who hunted incredibly large fish and marine mammals and who likely went extinct as a result of an ancient ice age. Nonetheless, megalodons are the scariest and biggest sharks that ever lived and hopefully you’ve learned something new about them from this biggest shark in history: megalodon article.

If you’d like to learn more about megalodons, you can read this article that we’ve linked.

If you’d like to learn more about blue whales, here’s a link to that article.

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