Millions of years ago, megalodon ruled the sea. As far as we know, the biggest shark ever was so powerful that it put T-rex to shame.
Otodus megalodon means "giant tooth," and this shark, which ruled the waters a long, long time ago, justified its name. Its jaw would have no problems crashing a car, so we are puzzled how the fish vanished. It's not like there was anyone above it in the food chain.
Megalodon's Size And Weight
Scientists gathered the most advanced technologies to learn about prehistoric predators in the past decade.
The shark that mysteriously vanished 2,6 million years ago reached 80 feet (25 m) and weighed up to 143,000 pounds. Let us put it this way: the whole bowling alley is 60 feet. The infamous great white shark reaches up to 32 feet (9.7 m). Now you get the picture of what made this prehistoric shark mega.
The megalodon was part of the Otodontidae species that diverged from the great white family. So, the connection is there, but saying they are closely related is untrue.
Further research added that the initial estimations were exaggerated, but not a lot. Either way, if you think that 2018's The Meg was horrific, you are lucky you never got to meet the real thing.
Megatooth sharks evolved with time, and some fossils suggest that they would get up to 65 tons during the evolution. That would be 58967 kilograms.
The size is nothing compared to the powerful bite megalodon had. The largest megalodon tooth was three times the size of the great white's. One bite was six to ten times more powerful, despite having cartilage instead of bones.
Cartilage may seem like softer tissue, but the bite's force was more powerful than anything we saw so far. But, as many scientists pointed out, it is pretty challenging to understand the biting force of extinct animals. What is evident is that the predator had sharp, knife-like teeth, making every prey, no matter how big, theirs for the taking.
Mega Shark Babies Were Cannibals
The biggest predatory shark's babies were around 2 meters at their birth. Scientists assume that bigger ones would eat their siblings to make more space for growth.
The newly-born megalodons were targets of other animals, but the adult ones had no known predators. Megalodons' babies were cannibals and marks of the great white.
What Killed The Megalodon
It's not about who, but what could have killed such a majestic fish. Megalodon makes other shark pieces look like baby sharks, yet it disappeared from the planet, and there are likely explanations.
Similar to dinosaurs, these sharks enjoyed the warmth. Their fossils have been found everywhere, aside from Antarctica. Megalodons tormented other creatures in warm waters, including whales, dolphins, and other sharks. However, things seemingly went south with the coming of the ice age.
There cannot be other possible explanations considering these sea creatures' size and power.
These amazing ocean giants either froze to death or died from starvation. Starvation is a likely cause since megalodons ate tons of food every day, and that is putting it mildly. Either way, the chances of finding one are below marginal error.
The Meg In Real Life
Megalodons existed 70 times longer than modern humans have. These sharks occupied the oceans for around 20 million years, while humans have been on this planet for approximately 300,000 years. The key to their longevity was their size and the fact that they ate everything.
Most researchers suggest that giant sharks ever lived from 88 to 100 years.
The researchers proved that megalodon had the most powerful bite, beating previous records held by T-Rex. They also explained that prehistoric humans never met megalodon.
These monsters were clever predators. They would first attack the flipper and tails so their victims wouldn't escape. Ripping flesh with 276 saw-like teeth was an easy task.
Could A Megalodon Still Be Alive?
Sadly, megalodons are long gone. The probability is left since there are no conclusions about this massive beast that rules the ocean world.
No transitional fossils showed a gradual change of megalodon into something else. Hence there are no similar creatures, so The Meg and similar movies are just someone's fantasy.
Commonly, people assume that since the ocean is so unexplored, many massive predators are lurking. The picture is pretty specific with megalodons: they lived in warm waters and enjoyed snacking whales. In other words, if The Meg were alive and kicking, we would see them all the time.
Science Vs. Fiction
In 2019, Northern California scientists re-evaluated every reported occurrence of megalodon on the west coast. They found no reliable fossils after 3.6 million years and cite an age of 3.51 million years for the median extinction date of megalodon.
Although we still have to learn about these not so gentle giants, some scientific books excite every sea lover.
The National Geographic's Prehistoric Predators: Monster Shark from 2007 is one of the most relatable sources about the life and death of megalodons.
If you want to search for fossils, Peru, Chile, and South Carolina are good spots to start with.
The big-toothed glorious shark also made an intriguing appearance in the 17th century.
In the 1600s, people believed fossilized megalodon teeth could neutralize toxins. They kept them as talismans, called "tongue stones."
Danish scientist Nicholas Steno dissected a great white shark's head in 1666. He then realized that tongue stones were prehistoric shark teeth that belonged to something considerably greater.
We Cannot Even Imagine What The Megalodon Truly Looked Like
Smithsonian's Curators of Vertebrate Paleontology, Hans-Dieter Sues, described the enigmatic massive creature:
"There is nothing today that comes anywhere close."
"They'll have an idea from the movies for what a shark looks like, but they won't have seen one up close unless they've gone scuba diving."
It was a majestic ruler of the waters, but the climate changes and the fact it couldn't adapt to these drastic changes made megalodon a history.
How Does The Biggest Shark Alive Today Compare To The Biggest Shark Ever?
While it is fair to say that the great white shark is the enormous creature captivating the sea today, one species might be larger than all others.
This great white shark, known as Deep Blue, is most likely, the largest shark known to any marine biologist today.
Apart from razor-sharp teeth, Deep Blue is approximately 20-feet long, eight feet high, and weighs 2,5 tons. The most exciting part - it was first caught on camera in 2014. Researcher Mauricio Hoyos Padilla spotted the beast off the coast of Guadalupe Island in Mexico and shared the photo on Facebook a year later.
Later it was spotted near Hawaii, as the researchers were observing tiger sharks.
A magnificent video from 2019 shows Deep Blue in all its glory. However, Deep Blue, despite its popularity, raised some suspicions. Michael Domeier, president, and executive director of the Marine Conservation Science Institute, stated:
"Deep Blue has never been scientifically measured or weighed. That would require being physically laid out next to a tape measure or photographed while being painted with a precisely calibrated paired laser system. That's never happened."
So, saying that this one Deep Blue is the biggest shark alive is not entirely true. Yet, it is a beautiful, gigantic animal, sadly, like all blue sharks, listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.
Megalodon Makes The Jaws Look Like A Comedy
The more you learn about prehistoric sharks, the more questions you are left with. Despite all discoveries, some questions will remain unanswered.
While we are aware that ocean discoveries happen daily, we doubt there will be anything more powerful than this prehistoric mega beast.
Megalodon stands out: this magnificent giant was ten times heavier than T-Rex, but it would most likely have no interest in humans. We would simply be too small for something so majestic and mighty.