Most paleontologists place the megalodon in the extinct genus Carcharocles or, less frequently, Otodus. Megalodon is a species name, not a genus, like Homo sapiens. Ready to learn more about this ancient creature? Let’s explore 10 incredible megalodon facts!
10. Megalodons Died Off Before Homosapiens Existed
Megalodons went extinct before homo sapiens existed, while the exact period is disputed. Some academics say they died off 3.6 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch, while others say 2.6 million. Early homo sapiens initially appeared 2.5 million years ago.
9. Megalodon Teeth Have Been Found In Southern California
Shark teeth, particularly megalodon teeth, can be found in the Sharktooth Hill Bone Bed in the deserts of Southern California. The region also features fossils of other marine animals like turtles, sea cows, and whales. Megalodon’s skeleton was mostly cartilage, and cartilage doesn’t fossilize well, so it’s unlikely to find a whole megalodon fossil.
8. They Were Gigantic Due To An Abundance Of Large Prey
At the close of the Mesozoic era, mountain ranges started to build and weather into the oceans, supplying vast quantities of nutrients that expanded the number of plants in the waters. The abundance of huge marine mammals, the megalodon’s preferred prey, was also a result of this increase in plants and algae. The marine mammals, including whales, dolphins, seals, and manatees, developed to become larger due to the quantity of food, and the mega-toothed sharks kept up with this growth in size.
7. Megalodons Had Hundreds Of Teeth
Each megalodon jaw contained five rows of enormous, serrated teeth. Just like in modern sharks, their teeth frequently fell off and would regrow quickly. The rows of teeth advance forward and backward in a pattern reminiscent of a conveyor belt.
Their mouth was quite huge, and it contained around 275 teeth. They also kept growing new teeth, so thousands of teeth were likely lost and replaced during their lifetime. Scientists believe the teeth’ tensile strength was enhanced by the connective tissue threads holding them in place.
6. Their Estimated Size Is Based Mostly On Their Teeth
Without a complete skeleton to work with, scientists had to extrapolate the megalodon’s size from the proportion of its jaw and backbone to its teeth. Researchers estimated extinct sharks’ size based on living sharks’ proportions.
5. Megalodons Have The Largest Shark Teeth Ever Found
The massive size of a megalodon’s teeth is the most striking feature of this creature. Teeth from fully grown megalodons can be over a pound and seven inches long. The megalodon’s teeth were 3-5 times longer than the great white shark’s!
4. Megalodon teeth Were Once Thought To Be Fossilized Dragon Tongues
Many of the Renaissance population thought megalodon teeth were dragon remains, specifically the tongue. The aristocrats wore these “tongue stones,” also known as glossopetrae, as pendants and lucky charms. According to legend, they even used the teeth to heal sickness and snakebites.
3. They Were Once All Around The World
Megalodons once thrived in the warmer coastal waters, although they were not location-specific. The sharks were truly global citizens, making their homes in oceans across the planet. Megalodon fossils can be found on every continent except Antarctica, where the climate was too frigid for the sharks to live.
2. Climate Change Was Thought To Play A Role In Their Extinction
A few thousand years before the ice era, megalodon sharks disappeared. One hotly contested megalodon fact is that they might have perished in the frigid temperature. Scientists originally believed that because sharks love warm waters, they could not have survived the chilly temperatures or kept up with the whales that migrated to cooler waters. The warmer waters where their young thrived may not have been the best environment for the juvenile sharks on Earth due to its colder climate.
1. They Likely Died Off Due To A Lack Of Food Source
Many megalodons probably starved to death. They had fierce competition for food, and a sizable portion of their food source vanished before them. Once an asset, their enormous bulk ultimately worked against them. They required a vast amount of food to maintain their big bodies, but they could not do so since food was becoming more scarce and there was more competition.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Antonio Viesa/Shutterstock.com
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