The megalodon shark (Carcharodon megalodon) was a massive being that would put modern day sea predators to shame. If you are currently afraid of the great white shark, then I'm sure you're happy that you don't have to worry about the megalodon creeping up under your sailboat. This colossal being was not one to mess with, and although the megalodon is now extinct, its memory most definitely deserves to be respected and well known.
How scientists know about this giant prehistoric beast
Just like the sharks of today, these sharks were comprised mainly of cartilage. So even though these sharks were immense, the majority of their bodies were not fossilized; cartilage usually disintegrates too fast for the fossilization process to occur. Therefore, there are still many factors of the megalodon that we are unsure of. Luckily, some teeth have been found and investigated. Because of this, paleontologists have managed to uncover quite a few facts about these amazing creatures, and although many specifics are still being debated, there are a few things that most are definitely in agreement on.
Widely accepted facts
From 70 million to 10 million years ago, the wonder known as the megalodon shark ruled the warm waters of Earth. Based on what researchers have discovered, the megalodon had many physical and behavioral similarities to the great white shark; however, one of the main differences between the two was that the megalodon was substantially more menacing and intimidating. The average great white can be anywhere from 15 to over 20 feet (4 to over 6 m) long. Yes these lengths are pretty impressive, but it does not even compare to the megalodon shark. The exact lengths of these ancient sharks are still in discussion, however, we do know that the megalodon was approximately 40 to 70 feet (12 to 21m) long! They are also known as the "megatooth" shark and was the largest carnivorous fish that has ever existed on Mother Earth.
Scientists have studied megalodon teeth that were found in Africa, North America, South America, India, Australia, Japan, and Europe. Based on the locations that these teeth were unearthed, it is the firm belief that they thrived in the world's warmer waters. As mentioned earlier, scientists are still trying to uncover particulars of this prehistoric shark, including their diet. Since the great white shark is a descendant of the "megatooth" shark, most believe that the diet of the great white shark reflected that of the megalodon. However, based on the serration marks found on the "mega" teeth of the ancient shark, it is believed that they also fed upon whales.
A possible reason for extinction
Yes, the megalodon shark is extinct. Unfortunately, due to the fact that not much information has been determined regarding these incredible beings, the absolute reason of why they all died off is unknown. There are a few theories that would explain the extinction of these animals, however. Two of the main speculations actually coincide with the belief that these sharks swam in warm waters. During the time when these sharks were still living, the temperature of the oceans began to decrease. The oceans' steadily increasing colder temperatures may very well be what killed off the megalodon shark. Another plausible belief is that the ancient shark's preferred prey began to migrate to colder waters. These low temperature waters were probably too cold for the megalodon to survive.
Is the Megalodon Shark still alive?
Interestingly enough, there are many who refuse to believe that the megalodon shark is indeed extinct. Skeptics feel as if the megalodon shark may possibly be in existence deep down in the ocean. While it is true that we have not explored every inch of the world's oceans, and it is likely that there are undiscovered species living in the depths of the waters, the belief that the megalodon shark may still be alive today has yet to be proven. Sharks are known for shedding hundreds of teeth on a regular basis; if the megalodon shark was still alive, they would be expected to shed the most teeth out of all of these sharks. Every megalodon tooth that has been found is ancient. Until a fresh megalodon tooth, a "megatooth" shark sighting, or some other form of proof has been presented, it is determined that this ancient shark is most definitely extinct.
Show your support for sharks by liking us on our new Facebook page!
Help Sharks Now!
(No, we're not going to ask you for money)