Megalodon fossil

Megalodon fossil

What size was megalodon and how much did it weigh?

Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon, “big tooth”) is the largest predatory shark in the history of the Earth. The size of the prehistoric fish was tried repeatedly. In 1909, when the jaw of the megalodon was first reconstructed, the body length of the shark was estimated by scientists to be 30 meters. Today’s advances in vertebrate biology and new finds of megalodon remnants have halved the estimated size. With different methods of studying predator teeth, we get a body length from 13 meters to 18. Only in 2015, after studying a large sample of teeth, an average length of 10 meters was obtained, and a maximum of 15 meters. For comparison: a large white shark can theoretically reach seven meters in length. The size of the megalodon approaches the largest marine reptiles of the Mesozoic, such as mosasaurs and ichthyosaurs.

Why do you use the teeth of a shark, not parts of its skeleton, in size assessments? Because sharks are cartilaginous fish. That is, their skeleton does not consist of bones, but of cartilage. Cartilage is poorly preserved. They decompose before they stone. So we have almost no remnants of megalodon other than teeth.

For a long time, the mass of megalodon remained the subject of controversy. It is difficult to draw conclusions about the mass based only on the teeth of the animal. The lack of remains of a giant predator interfered with accurate estimates. If you reconstruct megalodon based on white shark complexation, we get a body weight of 41 to 47 tons. But we can compare the dimensions of megalodon and whale shark to draw conclusions about the mass of extinct fish. This method underestimates the weight to 30 tons. All the same, with such a mass, the predator had to consume a colossal amount of food, more than a ton per day. While studying the fossils of whales, the peers of megalodon, it became clear where the shark took such an amount of food. Many skeletal residues of large marine mammals had characteristic lesions suitable for the profile and size of megalodon teeth.

Megalodon long

What was the size of the megalodon teeth and what was the size of the largest sample found.

The teeth of a giant shark are found around the world. Their average size varies from 10 to 13 cm. These sizes are already impressive, since the teeth of a large white shark are only 7 cm long. However, several megalodon teeth were found more than 17 cm long. The largest of the megalodon teeth found totaled as much as 19 cm.

In 1843, when megalodon was first described, it was assigned to the genus Carcharadon, to which the white shark belongs. Two huge sharks, with large serrated teeth – they are probably relatives. But time passed, science developed, and the paleontological record was filled. Today, the taxonomy of sharks looks different than a century and a half ago. The evolutionary pathways of the white shark and megalodon diverged more than 60 million years ago.

Megalodon is believed to be the owner of the most powerful bite in the history of fish. His giant jaws could squeeze on the victim with a monstrous force of 109 kN. This is three times stronger than today’s record holder – a combed crocodile. In terms of bite strength, megalodon is inferior to tyrannosaurus (more than 200 kN) and deinosuch (more than 350 kN).

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How many teeth did megalodon have?

Do not forget that the jaw of megalodon was shrunk with a huge number of sharp teeth. Predators like sharks tend to have a large number of teeth. The old ones break down, wear out, while the new ones are already on the way. The giant’s two-meter jaw consisted of more than 270 teeth located in five rows. Triangular notches on them, the same as in a white shark, indicate a similar diet. Megalodon did not swallow his prey, nor did the white shark. Sharp and strong teeth more than 10 cm long literally drank huge pieces of the flesh of unsuccessful victims.

Of course, speaking of megalodon, it is impossible to pass by his teeth as valuable samples for collectors. The fact is that the teeth of sharks regularly fall out and are well preserved. Today, megalodon is well studied, and there is no end and edge to the finds. Small teeth cost a little and can become an interesting and unusual gift. But samples from 16 centimeters are already very expensive and can reach a cost of tens of thousands of dollars.

But size is not the only factor determining value. It is also affected by safety and color. The larger the size, the more difficult it is to find a well-preserved sample. The most expensive are large teeth in perfect preservation, which are usually classified as “museum quality.”

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This is the real fossilized jaw of the largest shark in the world.

What did Megalodon eat?

The huge size of the shark and its monstrous teeth transparently hint at the place of the superstore in marine ecosystems. The Internet is littered with colorful paintings in which megalodon tears whales. Recently, there has been a reverse tendency to “expose” ancient predators, turning them into scavengers. It is easy to find videos that prove that megalodon was a kind of scavenger who slowly drove up dead in the ocean. And what do paleontologists say about this?

Megalodon was an active predator who used different food strategies at different ages. Young megalodons hunted everything that moves, moving with increasing size to marine mammals. The main prey of adults were cetaceans 2.5-7 meters long, large fish and sea turtles. Prey with a length of over 7-10 meters in the diet of megalodon is less common. But like modern sharks, he could gladly benefit from carrion.

During the hunt, megalodon tried to attack from below. A ramming blow and bites were inflicted on the chest, often the fins were bitten off. Given the slowness of megalodon metabolism, adults were ambush predators. They could guard the victim for a long time while in the depths, and did not pursue if the victim managed to leave.

During the hunt, megalodon tried to attack from below. A ramming blow and bites were inflicted on the chest, often the fins were bitten off. Given the slowness of megalodon metabolism, adults were ambush predators. They could guard the victim for a long time while in the depths, and did not pursue if the victim managed to leave.

Causes of extinction

The warm ocean and a huge abundance of food made the megalodon a very successful predator. The remains of an ancient shark were found in the Americas, Europe, Africa, as well as Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica, the Canary Islands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malta, the Grenadines and India. But what led megalodon to success was its death: 2.6 million years ago, the planet’s climate began to change greatly, the oceans were cooling. The large fauna died out, and the giant predator simply had nothing to eat. The influence of other higher predators, such as killer whales, is not excluded. Today, a white shark weighing 1-2 tons is a breakfast for young killer whales. But, most likely, megalodon died out due to a complex of reasons that unsuccessfully fell on his head.


The record of Megalodon fossils indicates the cosmopolitan distribution of this predator. Transitional fossils have been found showing that megalodon is the last chronoid of the line of giant sharks originally belonging to the genus Otodus, which developed in the Paleocene. Megalodon had a global distribution, and shark fossils were found in many places around the world bordering all the oceans of the Neogene.

Published by Eric


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