Megalodons were absolutely massive sharks, but just how big were they? We’ve compiled the 13 most mind-blowing facts about megalodon. Don’t worry though, you’ll be able to get back in the water as the species is long since extinct. Let’s dive into our top megalodon facts!
1. Megalodons Are Possibly the Largest Shark/Fish That Ever Lived
Even though we only have their teeth to go off of, megalodons are thought to have been massive. Experts state that Megalodons are perhaps the largest shark and fish to ever have roamed the oceans! While basilosaurids (ancient whales) and pliosaurs (ancient marine reptiles) are thought to have been as large, megalodons tend to hold the top position when it comes to the largest ocean predator.
Megalodons were also apex predators or top carnivores during their time, meaning they were at the top of the food chain. This possibly was because of their massive size. What else could compete? While other large whales and sharks may have been their rivals, nothing came too close to taking megalodons’ top spot.
2. Megalodons Were Anywhere from 20X to 50X the Size of Today’s Largest Great Whites!
Just how big were megalodons? Well, that’s the subject of serious debate in the scientific community.
In a 1996 paper, it was proposed that megalodon had a maximum length of up to 67 feet. That paper established a ‘conservative’ maximum body mass of 105,733 pounds while a maximum body size of 227,510 pounds was proposed. More recent research proposes megalodon’s maximum size was closer to 50 to 52 feet in length.
Regardless, at ‘conservative’ estimates megalodon would be more than 20 times the size of the largest great white shark on record. At the larger estimates, more than 50 times the size of the largest great whites today!
3. Megalodons Possibly Had the Most Powerful Bite of All Time
Because of their huge size, megalodons had huge teeth. We can see that when we look at pictures of their fossilized teeth. Experts have since concluded that these ancient sharks may have had the most powerful bite of all time. This includes land animals!
A megalodon had a mouth that was almost 10 feet wide. Megalodons teeth are similar to current modern white sharks’ teeth in shape, though in size a megalodon’s tooth is much bigger. A megalodon’s tooth, on average, is about three times larger than a modern white shark’s!
4.) No Seriously, Megalodon’s Had 5 Times the Bite Force of Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Thanks to breakthroughs in computer simulations, we have a better view of megalodon’s powerful bite than at any point in history. Recent 3-D computer analysis placed megalodon’s bite force at up to 182,201 newtons. That bite force is five times the bite force that scientists believe Tyrannosaurus Rex was capable of.
For even more perspective, that bite force would be almost exactly 10 times the bite force of the largest great white alive today!
5. Megalodons Had Nurseries for Their Babies
When it comes to megalodon babies, there are a lot of interesting facts to dig through. To begin, megalodons were thought to give birth closer to the shore to help keep their babies away from potential predators. In this way, megalodons created nurseries for their babies.
After birth, these megalodon babies would stay in this vicinity while their mother watched over them. This also gave the babies a chance to learn how to prey on smaller fish, eventually working their way to catching and eating larger creatures. Once the babies got older and larger – and more capable to evade or defend against predators – they would leave these nurseries behind.
6. Megalodon Babies May Have Eaten Their Siblings Before Birth
Megalodon babies were born huge. On average, these babies were thought to be about 6.6 feet at birth. Because of their massive size, experts have concluded that it’s possible that megalodon babies ate their siblings while still in the womb.
Once they had eaten their siblings, the remaining babies would have ample enough space to grow while still in their mother. Then, when they were finally born, they would be 6 feet and large predators already. While this does mean that megalodon babies were possibly cannibals, this fact also helps explain exactly why these babies were so big at birth.
7. Female Megalodons Were Twice as Large as Males
Megalodons were massive sharks – and females tended to be the bigger sex. On average, it’s assumed that female megalodons could be up to two times as large as the average male megalodon. Females tended to be larger in both mass and length. Therefore, the largest megalodons were possibly more than 143,000 pounds (with some maximum estimates reaching up to 227,510 pounds)!
8. Megalodons and Dinosaurs Never Coexisted Together
While both considered ancient creatures that reigned on Earth long before humans did, megalodons and dinosaurs never actually coexisted together. Dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago. Megalodons, meanwhile, weren’t thought to have existed until 23 million years ago.
Both megalodons and dinosaurs were massive creatures that were apex predators in their territories. While they are both extinct now, many millions of years separated the two, which is quite crazy to think about!
9. Megalodon Teeth Fossils Have Been Found on Every Continent – Except Antarctica
The only fossils we have of the megalodon are teeth. However, we’ve been able to learn quite a lot from these teeth. One major component of a megalodon’s life experts have been able to deconstruct from these teeth fossils? How and where megalodons lived.
Megalodons’ fossilized teeth have been found on every single continent – except Antarctica. Considering megalodons didn’t swim in cold waters, this isn’t too much of a surprise! Still, it’s interesting to see how megalodons were able to thrive in different areas all over the world.
10. Megalodons Possibly Went Extinct Because of a Cold Climate Change
After living for 20 million years, megalodons slowly began to die out and eventually became extinct creatures. Most experts believe that this is because the Earth experienced climate change where the weather became much colder – and this made the water around the world colder.
Megalodons only lived in warmer water temperatures, so this colder water likely affected their living situation. This climate change may have also caused other fish in the sea to die out, which then impacted megalodons and their food source. With barely anything to eat and nowhere to go, these massive creatures eventually died out.
While megalodons are now extinct, certain sharks existing today could be from the same family tree, or could have evolved from megalodons. For example, experts believe that modern white sharks and megatooth sharks could somehow be related!
11. Another Reason Megalodons May Have Gone Extinct Was a Supernova!
In 2018 the journal Astrobiology proposed that megalodons went extinct from a most unexpected source: a supernova 150 light years from Earth!
Astrobiology presented data that this supernova killed off 1/3 of the world’s large marine mammals. Why were they impacted so disproportionately? In short, radioactivity from the supernova led to dramatically higher risks of cancer in larger animals. With animals not getting much bigger than megaolodon, the species would have died off from cancer as the impacts of the supernova’s radiation cascaded across Earth.
12. Megalodon’s Greatest Rival Was a Giant Sperm Whale!
While megalodon was the largest shark ever, it may have had a fierce rival in the oceans! An ancient sperm whale known as Livyatan lives at the same time as megalodon. While megalodon’s teeth were massive, Livyatan’s teeth were something without peer. Livyatan teeth reached more than a food in length!
Livyatan and megalodon both lived in the same region and were both apex predators, so its likely these two fierce prehistoric creatures faced off while competing for prey. That’s certainly a battle that would be amongst the most ferocious between two animals to ever live on Earth!
13. Experts Don’t Believe that Megalodons Exist Today
80% of the ocean has never been mapped or discovered. As a result, many people believe there are countless types of creatures we’ve never seen. Many have also theorized that megalodons could still exist in these undiscovered locations.
While interesting to think about, experts don’t believe that megalodons exist today. They believe that an animal of this massive size would never be able to go undetected for very long. Plus, megalodons only lived in warm water – and many of the deep undiscovered locations of the ocean are in colder temperatures!