Megalodon Facts – Questions and Answers

Megalodon Facts – Questions and Answers

Megalodon Facts – Questions and Answers

Megalodon
Megalodon by Nobu Tamura cc3.0

What would you do if you saw a shark? Scream? Swim as fast as you could toward the shore? Play dead? One thing’s for sure. You’d probably feel afraid and no one would blame you. Sharks are deadly creatures, after all. But guess what? You’d still be lucky it’s a modern-day shark and not the megalodon!



Comment on the Megalodon Shark Facts video here.


Was the Megalodon Real?

Carcharocles megalodon
Carcharocles (Carcharodon) megalodon,jaw. Image credit: Gunnar Ries Amphibol cc3.0

Yes, the megalodon was real. And there have been thousands of fossils found to prove it, most of them teeth. True, no one alive has ever seen a megalodon and everything we know of it is from fossils. But then, the same is true with dinosaurs. No one alive has seen one, but we know that they once roamed the earth.

awesome shark


How Big Was the Megalodon?

The megalodon was the largest shark ever to have existed. Of that, scientists are sure. What they aren’t sure of, though, is exactly how big megalodons actually were.

Some scientists believed the megalodon could reach up to 100 feet (30.4 meters) long. Others say it was more like 80 feet (24.4 meters). Still others say the megalodon was around 60 feet (18.3 meters) long. Today, scientists peg the megalodon at 50 to 70 feet (15.2 to 21.3 meters) long.

As for its weight, this could be anywhere from 50 to over 100 short (US) tons (45 to 91 metric tons). That’s as heavy as seven to sixteen adult male African elephants!

Megalodon_scale
Size comparison of Carcharodon carcharias (Great White Shark, 5.2m), Rhincodon typus (Whale Shark, 9.7m) and conservative/maximum estimates of the largest known adult size of Carcharodon megalodon (16-20m), with a human Homo sapiens (1.8m). By Scarlet23 cc3.0

Megalodon Size Comparison

Compared to the great white shark, the most feared of all of today’s sharks, the megalodon was three times longer. It was as big as two killer whales or one sperm whale. Compared to humans, it would take nine to twelve humans swimming in a row to be as long as one megalodon.

Here’s one more thing — a megalodon was big enough to swallow a school bus!


How Big were Megalodon Teeth?

Megalodon tooth great white shark teeth
Carcharodon megalodon tooth with two great white shark teeth and with a US 25 cent coin (23 mm in width) as a scale object. Image credit: Brocken Inaglory GFDL

The word “megalodon” comes from the Greek words — megas, meaning “big” or “mighty”, and odont, meaning “tooth”. Combined, they mean “big tooth”, and the megalodon definitely lives up to its name. The megalodon had over 270 teeth, each of which could grow over 4.5 inches (11 centimeters) wide at the base and up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) long from root to tip. That’s about the size of a human head! In comparison, the teeth of a great white shark are just about 3 inches long.

Only the saber-toothed cats and the Tyrannosaurus rex had consistently bigger teeth. The smilodon, one of the saber-toothed cats, had fangs that could grow up to 11 inches (28 centimeters) long, while the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus rex could grow up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) long. The jaws of a T. rex were only 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide, though, whereas the jaws of a megalodon may have been 7 feet (2.1 meters) wide!


Where did Megalodons Live?

World ocean map
By User:Quizimodo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Megalodon fossils have been found all over the world, which goes to show that the megalodon could be found in most of the world’s oceans. This was especially possible because the oceans used to be warmer. Just imagine a fish, as big as three great white sharks, lurking everywhere. Now, wouldn’t that be scary?


What did Megalodons Eat?

VMNH megalodon
By Karen Carr (http://www.karencarr.com/tmpl1.php?CID=196) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What could a predator that big eat? Fossils show that the megalodon was probably a whale killer. It ate sperm whales, bowhead whales and humpback whales, as well as prehistoric whales such as the leviathan whale, which could grow over 50 feet (15.2 meters) long. It also fed on dolphins, seals, sea lions, manatees, dugongs, giant sea turtles and smaller megalodons. Young megalodons preyed on smaller whales and fish.

How could a megalodon take down a giant whale? It would first bite off its fins, making the whale unable to swim away, then chew at it little by little.


Does the Megalodon Still Exist?

There have been a few reports of monster sharks still swimming in the world’s oceans. However, there is no clear evidence that megalodons still exist. In fact, scientists are convinced it is extinct. After all, if it were still alive, there would be fewer whales around today, and yet studies show that whales became more abundant and even got bigger around the same time the megalodon disappeared.




When Did the Megalodon Live?

Most megalodon fossils date from as far back as 16 million years ago to as recent as 2 million years ago, so that’s probably when it lived.

Why is the Megalodon Extinct?

Scientists have come up with a few factors that might have led to the megalodons extinction. These include the cooling of the world’s oceans and the dropping of sea levels, which may have restricted the megalodons’ habitat and made it harder for them to reproduce, since megalodons gave birth in warm waters. Food might also have become harder to find as whales migrated to cooler waters and killer whales appeared.


Are there Megalodon Fossils?

Megalodon teeth
Carcharocles megalodon collection from the Gatun Formation. Specimens and their respective collection numbers. One specimen (CTPA 6671) was not available to photograph. By Catalina Pimiento, Dana J. Ehret, Bruce J. MacFadden, Gordon Hubbell cc2.5

As we said above, thousands of megalodon fossils have been found all over the world. Most of these are teeth. Fossils of spinal columns have also been found, though these are more rare.

It is not sure when the megalodon was discovered, although it was given a scientific name in 1835. To this day, however, its scientific classification remains under debate.


For more information on the megalodon visit:
Top 10 Facts about the Megalodon!


More Megalodon Videos

BBC: Megalodon – Extinct Whale Killer

CGI helps the BBC show what the Megalodon might have looks like.

The Nightmarish Megalodon | Sharkzilla — Shark Week 2012

Discovery Networks gives us some more information about the largest shark that has ever lived.

Megalodons are mentioned in the following books:
Sharks Early Readers
25 most Awesome Sharks
The Daily Shark


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megalodon
http://www.sharksider.com/megalodon-shark/
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29743081
http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/top-tens/10-top-facts-about-megalodon.html

To view the complete list of sources, please click here.

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