When we speak of prehistoric gigantic animals, dinosaurs come to our minds first but we rarely think of diverting our attention to seas and oceans. It is about time that we stop thinking of dinosaurs as the only big animals that lived on earth. There were others as well and believe us, they were, if not more, at least equally terrifying as dinosaurs. One such candidate was the Megalodon – the prehistoric gigantic shark which very likely terrorized the entire marine kingdom. Let us learn 20 interesting Megalodon facts and we are pretty sure you will find your jaws dropped!
Interesting Megalodon Facts: 1-10
1. Megalodon is a term derived from ancient Greek terms μέγας (which means megas or big) and ὀδoύς (which means tooth). Thus, Megalodon literally translates into “big tooth”.
2. The Megalodon was a prehistoric shark that lived some 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago. We call it the Cenozoic Era.
3. This prehistoric shark is considered to be most powerful and largest predator to have ever lived on planet Earth.
4. Today, the great white shark is considered to be the closest living relative of Megalodon but it is nowhere even close to the size of of its ancestor.
5. Some scientists believe the the Megalodon reached the maximum length of 59 feet but some others believe that it reached a maximum length of 100 feet. Forget about 100 feet. 59 feet is just enough to scare the crap out of us.
6. It is believed that the Megalodon weighed somewhere around 100 tons.
7. Considering the size of this prehistoric shark, its diet had to be befitting enough. Scientists believe that it fed on gigantic turtles that has extremely hard shells. Scientists also believe that it fed on prehistoric whales, squids, dolphins and other large fish.
8. According to the estimates made by scientists, the Megalodon had a biting force of 10.8 tons to 18.2 tons per square inch. Compared to that, the great white shark has a biting force of about 1.8 tons per square inch while lions have a biting force of 650 pounds per square inch.
9. With that kind of biting force, a Megalodon could munch on a prehistoric whale’s skull with same ease as humans munch on a grape.
10. Today, the biggest tooth of any living organism belongs to the great white shark. The tooth of a great white shark measures 3 inches. Compared to that the Megalodon’s teeth were gigantic. This prehistoric apex predator had teeth measuring up to half a foot.
Interesting Megalodon Facts: 11-20
11. Megalodons possessed a significantly different hunting style compared to modern great white sharks. Today’s great white sharks attack the exposed soft tissues like legs or underbelly. The Megalodon, with its tremendous biting force attacked the tough cartilage of its victims such as fins. This completely disabled the swimming ability of the victims and then the great shark went in for its final kill.
12. The scientific name of Megalodon is ‘Carcharodon megalodon‘. Carcharodon is the genus and megalodon is the species. Today’s great white sharks are known as Carcharodon carcharias (making Carcharodon the genus and carcharias the species). Thus, both Megalodon and the great white shark are from the same genus as per this nomenclature. Some scientists however disagree with this and they say that they don’t belong to same genus. These paleontologists argue that the similarities between the two are only a result of convergent evolution.
13. Megalodon is THE ONLY apex predator to have achieved the weight of 100 tons. Other prehistoric marine creatures to have attained similar (but nowhere near) weight were Kronosaurus and Liopleurodon from the Mesozoic Era. They achieved the maximum weight of 30 to 40 tons maximum.
14. Today, the only creature alive to beat the Megalodon in terms of weight is the Blue Whale. Interestingly, the Blue Whale is a plankton-eating benign marine creature and is known to cross the 100 tons weight barrier.
15. Megalodon really had a global distribution. They used to roam around in all warm-water oceans throughout the world and terrorized the prehistoric whales.
16. The Megalodons did not really venture out close enough to shores just to ensure that they didn’t beach themselves because of their enormous size.
17. Because Megalodons had global distribution, their teeth have been found globally both during ancient times modern day!
18. In 17th century and before that, the fossilized Megalodon teeth were known as ‘tongue stones’ and they were very popular among peasants. It Nicholas Steno from 17th century who identified the prized tongue stone as a shark tooth. Steno is today considered as world’s first paleontologist.
19. Scientists assume that the jaws of Megalodon opened 7 feet (which is 2.1 meters) high and 6 feet (which is 1.8 meters) wide. Scientists claim that the jaws of Megalodon were connected loosely to the skull with the help of muscles and ligaments which allowed this prehistoric shark to open its mouth wide open so that it could swallow gigantic objects.
20. Some believe that the Megalodons became extinct because of the global decline in temperature during the Ice Age. Some others say that the gradual disappearance of gigantic whales of prehistoric times, which were the major food source of the prehistoric sharks, led to the extinction of Megalodons.
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Did you know some people believe that Megalodon still lives today in the far depths of oceans where humans are yet to visit? Discovery channel came up with a show titled Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives. However, there are no conclusive evidence of the existence of Megalodon.