Megalodon Shark Facts

The Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon), meaning "big tooth," is an extinct species of shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, during the Early Miocene to the end of the Pliocene. It is considered one of the largest and most powerful predators to have ever lived in the ocean.

Size Estimates:

  • Length: The length of Megalodon is estimated to have been about 15 to 18 meters (49 to 59 feet), with some exceptional individuals possibly reaching lengths of 20 meters (66 feet) or more.
  • Weight: Based on the size, scientists have estimated that an adult Megalodon had a mass of 30 to 65 metric tons (33 to 72 short tons). The largest individuals could have weighed up to 100 metric tons (110 short tons).
  • Tooth Size: Megalodon teeth are among the most telling evidence of the shark's size. Their teeth could reach over 18 centimeters (7 inches) in slant height (diagonal length), making them some of the largest shark teeth ever found.
  • Jaw Size: Reconstructions of the shark's jaw suggest that it could span roughly 2 to 3 meters (6.6 to 9.8 feet) wide, allowing it to take very large bites.

Comparison with Modern-Day Sharks:

  • The largest confirmed great white sharks are about 6 to 7 meters (20 to 23 feet) long, making Megalodons significantly larger, at least two to three times the length of the largest great white sharks.
  • The whale shark, which can grow up to 18 meters (59 feet), rivals the Megalodon in length but not in predatory capabilities, as whale sharks are filter feeders.

Estimation Methods:

Estimates of Megalodon's size have been based on:

  • Comparisons with the size and proportions of the extant great white shark.
  • Fossilized teeth and a few rare vertebral specimens.
  • The relationship between tooth size and body length in modern sharks.

The exact dimensions of the Megalodon may vary with different scientific interpretations and methods used to estimate its size. Nevertheless, the general consensus is that the Megalodon was one of the most formidable marine carnivores to have existed.

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