Megalodons are the largest shark and may have been the largest fish to roam the oceans. They lived over 20 million years ago and were once thought to be related to the great white shark. They are a part of the Otodontidae family and are the last members of the megatooth shark to exist before going extinct.
Megalodons were the king of the ocean and the largest sharks to exist until going extinct around 2.6 million years ago at the end of the Pliocene period. Even with the large gap in time from when megalodons last roamed the seas, scientists are still able to get an insight into how these animals lived and interacted with the world.
Megalodon fossils have been important in giving insight into this enormous shark species. Their teeth have been found on coasts all across the world and help show how large they were. The Megalodon’s bite force is one of the strongest in history and made it one of the ocean’s fiercest predators.
How Powerful Is A Megalodons Bite?
Megalodons have one of the most powerful bite forces in the history of the animal kingdom. It is believed they were able to produce around 108,000 to 180,000 Newton’s with their bite.
With the capability of growing over 60 feet long, and some estimates of their weight surpassing 100,000 pounds, the megalodon was the most deadly shark to ever live. The megalodon’s mouth was over 9 feet tall and 11 feet wide, armed with 276 teeth that could reach up to 7 inches in length!
How are scientists able to figure out their bite force even though they have been extinct for millions of years? Great white sharks have been studied and are helpful in understanding megalodon biology.
3d modeling and X-rays were used to find the strength of a great whites bite force, around 18,000 Newtons. A computer-generated great white shark was used as a base and scaled to the size of a megalodon to find out how powerful their bite was.
What Did Megalodons Eat?
What did megalodons eat and how did they hunt? Being so large megalodons needed to eat around 2,500 pounds of food a day. It didn’t matter the size of prey, as they were large enough to take on any size sea animal. Their diet consisted of any small or large prey they could find and catch.
Marine life megalodons preyed on include:
Megalodons were equipped with 276 sharp teeth with serrated edges designed to tear and rip flesh. On some fossils, bites have been left on them so large only a megalodon would be able to produce them. Studying how sharks eat today is also useful in finding a megalodon’s diet.
One of the main food sources of the megalodon was cetaceans, which include whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Some whale fossils have damage on their belly, showing megalodons would swim under them and hit them from the bottom.
With its large size, they would be able to stun prey and injure them while they were caught off guard. Oftentimes prey was able to escape and megalodons had many unsuccessful hunts. The species relied on their large mouth size and speed to catch food, not adept hunting skills.
With such a strong bite force and large size, megalodon was the ocean’s greatest predators and the king of the ocean at their time. Megalodons only had to worry about other megalodons as no other species was strong enough to prey on them. Although they may have had competition from oversized sperm whales that also patrolled the ocean during the same timeframe megalodon lived.
Why Are Megalodon Teeth Important?
All evidence that Megalodons existed is 2.6 million years or older, signifying their extinction in that period. Fossilized teeth are helpful in understanding how this creature lived before its extinction. Fossilized megalodon vertebrae have also been found but they are rare.
Found in every continent but the Antarctic, their fossilized teeth have been useful in learning more about this species. The oldest fossil dates back nearly 20 to 23 million years ago, showing this shark ruled the ocean for around 20 million years.
Sharks are elasmobranchs and have no bones so their teeth have been one of the most important tools in understanding how this prehistoric shark lived. Parts of their teeth have even been found in other animal fossils giving us an idea of what they ate.
Megalodon teeth are found often, even though they have been extinct for such a long period. Sharks lose and regrow thousands of teeth over the course of their life. When hunting teeth may get stuck into prey or fall off. They can grow them back within a day, just like the sharks of today.
Does A Megalodon Have The Greatest Bite Force In History?
Megalodons we’re not only kings of the ocean but also have the greatest bite force of any living animal that we know of. With fossil records and modern technology, we are able to recreate some of the bite forces of a variety of animals. So what animals came close to the Megalodon’s bite?
Here are 6 animals with the greatest bite force in history:
- Megalodon ~180,000 Newtons
- Deinosuchus ~100,000 Newton’s
- Purussaurus ~69,000 Newton’s
- Tyrannosaurus-Rex ~35,000 Newton’s
- Giganotosaurus ~ 35,500 Newton’s
- Mapusaurus ~ 31,000 Newton’s
The T-Rex has the strongest bite force of any land animal but the megalodon is the king of all bites, on water or land. The Deinosuchus and Purussaurus are now extinct and are ancestors of caiman and alligators. Sharks and alligators both have incredible bite forces today and give insight on species of the past. At some point, the Megalodons, the Purussaurus, and Deinosuchus all coexisted on earth.
Megalodons had the strongest bite force in history, even compared to the giant caiman ancestors and dinosaurs of the past. It is unlikely the Deinosuchus and Purussaurs ever crossed paths with the Megalodon since they lived in freshwater habitats. Megalodon bite was unmatched and their size made them one of nature’s greatest predators.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Gil Cohiba/Shutterstock.com
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