Megalodon, The Worlds Largest Predator?

Megalodon was the largest shark the world has ever seen. Initially researchers estimated this beast to be 80 to 100 feet in length. More recent estimates are in the 40 to 50 feet range and weighing up to 48 tons. This makes Megalodon one of the largest predators ever. In fact only the sperm whale is bigger! It would take seven African elephants at seven tons each to equal the weight of this extinct shark.

Super Size Me
This beast had no equal in the ocean and certainly nothing preyed upon it. Providing nourishment for 48 tons of raw powered muscle is no slight task. They probably dined on whales.

The Era of Megalodon
Megalodon was a giant shark that lived during the Miocene and Pliocene epics of the Cenozoic Era, between 2 million and 16 million years ago. Little is known for sure about these giant predators because all that remains of their existence are fossilized teeth. But what teeth they are! They range in size from 3 inches long to 7 inches long. Massive things that are bigger than a man’s hand. It sets the imagination reeling. To put this in perspective a large great white shark measures about 20 feet long and weighs a little over 2 tons. A tooth from a shark like this is about 1.5 inches long.

Megalodon Teeth
Megalodon teeth are very much like a super-sized version of the white shark. There are some differences. The most notable of these is the darker chevron shaped area between the root and the blade of the tooth. This area is called the bourlette. Other differences are the serrations at the edge of the tooth. These are finer than in the white shark and more regular.

No Bones About It
The fossilized teeth are all that remains of this monster because sharks do not have bones. Their skeleton is made up of cartilage. This is what your ears and nose are made from. Cartilage does not fossilize well.

The Family Tree
The white shark is the closest living relative to the megalodon. This is well accepted but sets the stage for controversy.

The debate is over the relationship between the white shark and the megalodon. The scientific name is Carcharocles Megalodon. This is not universally accepted. The point of contention has to do with megalodon’s family tree and whether it was a direct ancestor of the white shark or a great uncle on a different branch of the tree. Proponents of direct lineage want the name Carcharodon (same genus as the white shark). Others believe that though there are similarities, the differences suggest separate lines and so separate names.

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