A quick Google search on “megalodon” brings up around 6,890,000 results about this monster prehistoric shark. Some of these links are video or picture "evidence" that this gigantic shark (estimated to have measured around 17 metres in length -- but it's length is debated by some... see below) is still alive out there... and that just simply isn't the truth. So what do we know about this extinct animal?
Megalodon (which means “big tooth” - fitting) is the common name for Carcharocles megalodon, an extinct relative of the sharks in the Lamnidae family. It lived in the early Miocene to the end of the Pliocene, between 23 to 2.6 million years ago. The largest tooth fossil of this animal was a massive 18 centimetres long-- and these teeth have been found nearly worldwide in fossil marine deposits! As the largest carnivorous fish to have ever lived, they actively hunted whales and many scientists believe that the Megalodon's extinct paved the way for a whale's massive size!
The sheer size of the teeth might put you off, or maybe it's because they hunted whales... don't worry, it's extinct. It lived from about 16 million to 2.6 million years ago. And the size of the whole animal? Several scientific papers by Dr Catalina Pimiento, of the Florida Museum of Natural History, has shown that by calculating its trends in body size through time, the average size of this large predator was likely around 10 metres for most of its reign. Speaking of, can we just appreciate the fact this animal was "top dog" for about 14 million years?! Woah!
Another cool thing we know about these animals- their pups were about 2 metres in length when born and started out life in nursery areas of the eastern Pacific. In fact, these were shallow water animals-- so there is no way they are "hiding in the deep" as many say.
GUEST BLOG POST WRITER: Joshua Rooks
TFUI Founder Melissa C. Marquez is author of all animal bios and "Behind the Fins" segments.
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