The realization that a shark weighing at least 50 tons and measuring an impressive 60 feet in length did in fact exist may cause an expletive or two to escape your lips. The megalodon—scientific name Carcharocles megalodon, meaning “big tooth”—may have been the most formidable carnivore that’s ever existed.
Photo source: Wikimedia: Scarlet23 / Creative Commons
Public interest in the megalodon has soared to a dull roar in recent years and, while it’s great to see any and all mainstream talk about sharks, there has been a lot of misinformation spread. So, to help clear things up, here are some definitively true facts about these animals:
- Megalodon jaws were massive (9 feet high and 11 feet wide) and filled with rows and rows of teeth, razor-sharp, as serrated as your kitchen bread knife.
- Scientists estimate megalodons ate close to 2,500 pounds of food a day. Its diet included large sea animals, including dolphins, bony fish, hard-shelled turtles and the occasional whale! Megalodons existed on Earth for 14 million years.
- And here’s the most important fact for those who are still feeling weary about their beach vacation plans: The megalodon has been extinct for approximately 2.6 million years.
What remains unclear about these prehistoric predators is what exactly caused them to die out. Some of the most supported theories include: a short-term crash in the availability of prey animals to support a vast, worldwide population of megalodons and/or a disruption in their circumtropical movements caused by the Ice Age.
To learn more about the megalodon, listen to this week’s A Blue View podcast!