Megalodons grew to 50 feet in length or greater, roughly three times longer than modern white sharks. Their razor-sharp teeth could bite down on its prey with between 12 and 20 tons of force, easily shattering bones, including skulls, of its intended victims. Most biologists consider megalodon to be one of the greatest hunters in the the history of the planet.
The disappearance of the animals 2.6 million years ago may have allowed for the evolution of large whales for the first time in the Earth’s history, according to new research.
“When we calculated the time of megalodon’s extinction, we noticed that the modern function and gigantic sizes of filter feeder whales became established around that time. Future research will investigate if megalodon’s extinction played a part in the evolution of these new classes of whales,” Catalina Pimiento of the University of Florida, said.
Megalodon first evolved around 28 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era. These creatures were formidable hunters, with several advantages in the wild, apart from their massive size.
Significant controversy surrounds the time when the species went extinct. Despite several studies showing the last megalodon lived millions of years ago, many people believe members of the species may still be alive today. This idea was fueled by recent television shows, suggesting the creatures may still be alive in the oceans today.
Shark teeth were found by people throughout history, often embedded in stone formation. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder believed the fossils fell from the sky during lunar eclipses. Others believed the teeth were the tongues of dragons. It was not until 1611 that they were properly identified, by Italian naturalist Fabio Colonna. While the smallest megalodon teeth only measure about half-an-inch in length, the largest are over seven inches long, making them the largest teeth of any shark, living or extinct. To assist in biting into prey, the teeth were serrated, similar to a steak knife. These fossils are rare, making them highly-collectible, and expensive.
The tremendous length of the megalodon body weighed over 50 tons, including a sturdy backbone, providing strength and support for hunting. When they bit into an animal, megalodon which shake itself from side-to-side, breaking bones and tearing the flesh of its intended victim. This provided the animals with a distinct weight advantage during the struggle for survival in the ancient oceans.
Megalodon was also able to adapt to nearly all conditions, allowing these fearsome hunters to roam the global ocean worldwide.