Megalodon: The Prehistoric Shark
Have you heard about the Otodus Megalodon, which is more commonly known as the ‘Megalodon’? Another name for megalodon is Carcharocles Megalodon. These giant sharks are from the Megatooth lineage that goes back 105 million years. The oldest, most definitive ancestor is the Otodus Obliquus.
The Beauty of The Beast
While the Otodus Obliquus (Ancestor) grew to around 10 metres in length, the Otodus Megalodon grew to 15 to 18 metres which is three times longer than the largest Great White shark. Megalodons are the largest shark and fish ever to exist. The meaning of the word megalodon is a compound of Greek root words which means giant tooth.
The name megalodon was given by Swiss-born American Naturalist, Geologist and teacher Louis Agassiz in 1835. Its teeth are as big as 18 centimetres and could have eaten all types of marine animals. This includes animals as small as dolphins and as large as humpback whales. Did you know they have over 250 teeth in their jaw, spawning five rows? They drop a set of teeth every one or two weeks, depending on what they eat. That’s why these creatures produced over 40,000 teeth.
When did they Exist?
These amazing creatures existed and ruled between the early Miocene Epoch, which began 23.03 million years ago, right to the end of the Pliocene Epoch i.e. 2.58 million years ago. According to the researchers, they mostly lived in tropical regions. Their teeth have been found all over the world except Antarctica. This shark’s bones are made mostly made of Cartilages like all the sharks. Did you know their teeth are the most common part to be found as they are very strong and are not made of cartilages?
Eating Habits and Size
These sharks can eat a lot of food to eat owing to their massive size; they can eat whales, dolphins even other sharks. Adult megalodons could have grown to a height of 10.2 metres, and the largest specimens measured up to 17.9 metres. Some scientists believe that the largest sharks could have been up to 25 metres in length. There is a study on brittanica.com says that ‘Studies estimate that adult body mass ranged from roughly 30 metric tons (1 metric ton = 1,000 kg; about 66,000 pounds) to more than 65 metric tons (about 143,000 pounds), adult females being larger (in both length and mass) than adult males.’
Rivals and predators of Megalodons
There were no predators of these magnificent creatures, but there were rivals who challenged them. These rivals were actually the ancestors of The Great White sharks, known as Lamniformes (Mackerel Sharks). Some scientists believe that the rivals mostly targeted the younglings of megalodons, as they were easy prey. Even though there are marine biologists studying megalodons, there’s a lot we still don’t know a lot about these giant creatures.
I like many things about the megalodons, like how they are the greatest hunter in the marine world. A 2015 study linking shark size and typically swimming speed estimated that the megalodons would have typically swum at the rate of 18 kilometres per hour (11 mph). Many people think that the megalodons are still alive in the depths of our ocean, but this is not possible, as they would not be able to survive in the cold water, and we would know if such a creature was alive.
Megalodon’s rival’s cousin, The Great White shark is now the dominant species. In the end, I would like to say that the megalodons are amazing and dangerous creatures.
Contributor: Advay Khetan
About our Writing Program Student
Advay is an 8th grader, studying in Delhi Public School, Faridabad.
He enjoys playing basketball, reading and playing the piano.
He is enthusiastic about marine creatures and space.
1. When Did Carcharocles megalodon Become Extinct? A New Analysis of the Fossil Record
2. Jaw-dropping Research Reveals Megalodon Mysteries
3. Body-size trends of the extinct giant shark Carcharocles megalodon: a deep-time perspective on marine apex predators
4. Megalodons gave birth to large new-borns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb
5. UWO biologist part of team that discovers ‘megalodon’ shark went extinct much earlier than previously thought
6. Body dimensions of the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon: a 2D reconstruction