Megalodon Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Carcharocles megalodon

Scientific Name:

Famous jagged big-tooth

Wild Status:

Miocene to Pliocene Epochs, 23-2.6 MYA

Habitat:

Global

Country:

Global

Shelter:

Unknown

Life Span:

Unknown

Size:

60 feet long, 50-60 tons

Cool Facts:

  • Scientists used to believe that the megalodon was a close relative or even an ancestor of the great white and was originally placed in the same genus, Carcharodon. However, research suggests that great whites are actually closer to mako sharks. As a result megalodon was moved to its own genus, Carcharocles.
  • Paleontologists have long wondered on what lead to the megalodon’s extinction after being the ocean’s apex predator for over 20 million years. It is believed the primary factor is climate change. Average ocean temperatures dropped, which restricted megalodon to the warmer waters. Whales responded to this change by evolving greater body size and migrating to more polar regions.
  • Apart from prey being harder to catch and more widely distributed, megalodon also faced competition from newer predators like orcas and great whites.

Details:

The Megalodon was one of the biggest and most powerful predators in the history of the planet, comparable in size to a sperm whale. Its serrated teeth were up to 7 inches long and it could open its jaws wide enough for a car to drive in without hitting the sides or roof of the mouth! Whale fossils from all over the world have been found bearing megalodon bite marks, usually concentrated around the flippers and tail flukes. It is believed this species used similar hunting techniques as the extant great white, ambushing prey from below to deliver a devastating bite. Immobilized and unable to fight back, the whale would bleed to death while the shark would wait to feed at its leisure.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom - Animalia Phylum - Chordata Class - Chondrichthyes Order - Lamniformes Family - Otodontidae Genus - Carcharocles Species - C. megalodon

Conservation & Helping:

The Megalodon is currently extinct, and was believed to exist 23 - 2.6 Million Years Ago

For Teachers and Educators

Megalodon-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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