Temporal range: Early Miocene – Late Pliocene
|An artist's interpretation of Carcharocles megalodon|
|Jaws of Carcharocles megalodon|
| †Carcharocles megalodon|
Carcharodon megalodon, Agassiz, 1843
The Megalodon (Greek for “big tooth”) is a large shark, the big estimate being up to 16 meters long. It is the biggest shark that ever lived. Megalodon is estimated to have a bite force of about 10.9-18.2 tonnes, which is the world's record for strongest bite force.
It went extinct at least 2 million years ago.
Like the modern great white shark, Megalodon appears to have hunted primarily marine mammals. It may not have been related to the modern great white shark, but a closer relative to the modern makos. This theory states that the Megalodon was probably more closer relative to the mao shark than the great white shark; however, this is still on a debate.
The most common fossils of C. megalodon are its teeth. The diagnostic characters of C. megalodon teeth include: triangular shape, robust structure, large size, fine serrations, and visible v-shaped neck. The teeth of C. megalodon can measure over 9 inches in slant height or diagonal length, and are the largest in size of any known shark species.
Fossil vertebrae of C. megalodon have also been occasionally found.The most notable example is a partially preserved but associated vertebral column of a single C. megalodon specimen, which was excavated from Belgium by M. Leriche in 1926.
This specimen comprises 150 vertebral centra, with the largest centra being 155 centimeters in diameter. However, scientists have claimed that considerably larger vertebral centra can be expected from C. megalodon. Interestingly, a partially preserved but associated vertebral column of another C. megalodon specimen that was excavated from Gram clay, Denmark by Bendix-Almgeen in 1983. This specimen comprises 20 vertebral centra, with the largest centra being around 230 mm in diameter.
Megalodon's size is speculative; it is not known, with sevral speculations range from 10 meters to 15 meters; some even claim 20 meters!(This was later proven false) The size of the average Megalodon has been heavily downsized to 11 meters on average making it up much smaller than its cetacean rival(Livyatan) It has been estimated that the Megalodon's weight was anywhere from 25 tons to even 125 tons. The weight of the average Megalodon has been estimated to be 30 tons on average ±5. The biggest Megalodon has been estimated to be a massive 50tons heavier than most medium sized baleen whales. Its teeth were 10 inches long. It's not known how large Megalodon actually was, for cartilage doesn't fossilize well. Megalodon's jaw strength was 18.2 metric tons, and it could swim at speeds of up to 15mph.
Its hunting process is thought to like that of a great white shark(ambushing prey from below), albeit that Megalodon preyed on much larger prey, such as small whales.
Megalodon shared their habitat and probably competed with Livyatan about 12-13 mya.
In Popular Culture
Megalodon is a very popular creature in pop culture. There are many, many theories speculating that it might be alive, but the majority have been disproved, as the Megalodon would have a rather large impact on the ecosystem with teeth everywhere, to baleen whales dying, to the Megalodon clashing with the sperm whale. The theory that the Megalodon might be alive in trenches 20,000 ft below the sea has been disproved as the pressure would kill anything that large, even sperm whales.A Megalodon appears the primary antagonist in the 2018 thriller/fantasy film The Meg. In the movie scientists studying the deep sea encounter the thought-to-be extinct Megalodon. The shark comes to the surface and wreaks havoc. Megalodons can be found in many cheap science fiction movies. Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, is based around the shark. In the movie sightings of a giant shark were witnessed around an island. The giant shark was found to be a juvenile Megalodon. Eventually the parent Megalodon was introduced into the film, but the film makers did not give the parent a constant size throughout the movie. Overall the film was very inaccurate on numerous aspects of a Megalodon. It was also in the movies Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus, being shown significantly larger than in real life. It's made appearances in the documentaries Jurassic Fight Club, Prehistoric DC and Prehistoric Los Angeles, Sea Monsters, Prehistoric Predators, and had its own show called Sharkzilla during Shark Week on Discovery Channel.
In Jurassic World: The Game, Megalodon can be created as a legendary surface creature in aquatic park. (This photo is inaccurate as the Megalodon was actually shorter than the T-rex in length but still far, far heavier)
In Jurassic Park Builder, Megalodon can be created in the Aquatic Park section. It can only be created by collecting a rare DNA sample from an aquatic expedition.
It appears in ARK: Survival Evolved.
Gray, the main protagonist of E.J. Altbacker's Shark Wars book series is a Megalodon.
Jurassic Fight Club
Prehistoric DC/Los Angeles
Vertebrate Paleontology; Michael J. Benton