Did Megalodon Really Exist? 10 Fast Facts About The Giant 60-Foot Prehistoric Shark

Megalodon pursuing two Eobalaenoptera whales. Creative Commons

With Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" in full effect everyone is now terrified to go in the water, but maybe they are on to something. This year for "Shark Week" Discovery Channel has produced a documentary entitled "Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives." And if the name wasn't ominous enough for you, just listen to the synopsis. The film followed a group of scientists as they attempt to discover if the legendary sea beast is still in existence and if it possibly could have been responsible for the attack on a fishing vessel in April of 2013 off the coast of South Africa.

So with that image of a massive sea beast in our minds as we head out to the beach, lets find out some real facts about Megalodon.

Megalodon may have grown to a length of 60 feet. Due to his scattering of fossils, the exact size of Megalodon is still debated, however the shark was the biggest prehistoric shark that ever lived. Scientists have determined a range for the size of Megalodon based on tooth size and comparison to the modern Great White Shark. The size of the giant shark ranges from 40 to 100 feet, although most paleontologists agree that the size of Megalodon ranges between 55 to 60 feet long and weighed as much as 100 tons.

The sheer size of the Megalodon is terrifying enough, however their teeth were huge too! Megalodon's teeth were about 7 inches long, earning it the name "giant tooth." The teeth were serrated and heart-shaped, in order to provided maximum impact and ripping power. Their massive teeth have been found all over the world. Sharks are constantly shedding their teeth over their lifetime, therefore thousands of Megalodon teeth have been found all over the world even into modern times.

Continuing with the scary description of Megalodon, they are considered to have the MOST powerful bite of any creature that ever lived. In 2008, a joint research team from Australia and the U.S. used computer simulations to calculate Megalodon's biting power. The team compared the bite of a modern day Great White Shark which possesses 1.8 tons of force in it's bite to the Megalodon, and the results were terrifying. Megalodon possessed a bite with a force of between 10.8 and 18.2 tons.

With that type of bite force, I'm sure you're wondering what exactly a Megalodon was eating. Megalodon feasted on prehistoric whales, dolphins, squids, fish and even giant turtles. So they pretty much ate everything! Even their hunting style was terrifying, because Megalodon's teeth could easily bite through cartilage, some evidence supports that the giant sharks would first disable their prey by ripping off their fins and they kill them.

Lastly, no one knows how or why Megalodon went extinct. Megalodon was the apex predator of the Pliocene and Miocene epochs, so why are they extinct. Some theories purpose that the disappearances of giant whales lead to a decrease in available food supply or global cooling killed off that Megalodon. The lack of notable extinction evidence even leads some people to believe that these giant shark monsters still lurk in the ocean!

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