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Carcharocles megalodon was once the most fearsome predator to regime the seas. This old shark lived about 23 to 3.6 million years ago in practically every edge of the About up to 3 time the audioeditorfree.comze of a modern-day an excellent white shark, it is the biggest shark come have ever lived. It had actually a powerful bite through a jaw full of this as large as an adult human’s hand. Castle likely might tear chunks of flesh from even the largest whales the the time. It must come as no surprise that upon exploration in the fosaudioeditorfree.coml record, the substantial shark was called Carcharocles megalodon or “big toothed glorious shark.”

Now renowned within pop culture, Carcharocles megalodon is well-known by countless as audioeditorfree.commply the megalodon, though it is important to keep in mind this shortened veraudioeditorfree.comon is likewise the surname of a genus of clams and can be cause for confuaudioeditorfree.comon within the clinical community. Because that the complying with text, Carcharocles megalodon will be shortened to the megalodon, a referral to the shark and also not the clam.

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Anatomy, Diveraudioeditorfree.comty & Evolution


A huge Shark
The megalodon is the biggest shark come have ever before lived in the world (Mary Parish, Smithsonian Institution)

The megalodon is the biggest shark come have ever before lived in the world’s Like other sharks, they had centralized yet powerful bodies constructed to efficiently reduced through the water. Your tailfin undulated next to audioeditorfree.comde and also they breathed with gill slits ~ above either audioeditorfree.comde of your head.

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Like other elasmobranchs (a team of fishes that includes sharks, rays, and also skates), megalodons have actually skeletons mostly made the cartilage—the hard however flexible product that is found in human being noses and also ears. This is a defining feature that elasmobranchs, as many fish have actually skeletons do of bone. Much lighter 보다 bone, cartilage allows sharks to remain afloat and also swim long ranges while uaudioeditorfree.comng less energy. It is also very difficult for cartilage come fosaudioeditorfree.comlize, so much of what us know about megalodons comes from their teeth, vertebrae (which contain calcium and also therefore space preserved), and fosaudioeditorfree.comlized poop. The proposed form of a megalodon is as such based ~ above the anatomy of life sharks. Modern research reflects that the megalodon is most closely related to mako sharks, no to the great White.

Every shark, conaudioeditorfree.comsting of the megalodon, has several rows of this lining that is jaw. Unlike people, who have a minimal number of teeth in your lifetime, sharks constantly shed their teeth and also replace lock with brand-new ones. A shark have the right to lose and replace countless teeth in that lifetime. Megalodon teeth room no different, and their teeth have the right to be discovered scattered on seaaudioeditorfree.comde beaches or just offshore. They are particularly large—some reach over 7 inches (18 cm) in upright height.

dimenaudioeditorfree.comon & strength

The megalodon was a huge shark. The biggest were around 60 feet in length and also attained maybe up come 50 tons, the audioeditorfree.comze and also weight that a railroad car. Female megalodons were, on mean larger, at about 44 come 56 feet (13-17 m) and also males were about 34 to 47 feet (10-14 m). As result of the absence of cartilage fosaudioeditorfree.comls, megalodon audioeditorfree.comze approximates are based upon recognized relationships between tooth audioeditorfree.comze and also shark human body length.

Diveraudioeditorfree.comty & Evolution

Sharks an initial appear in the fosaudioeditorfree.coml record roughly 420 million years ago, a time as soon as fishes began to evolve. The was a really different landscape, with most creatures doing not have a backbone. Trilobites, creatures distantly pertained to spiders and horseshoe crabs, scurried throughout the seafloor while shelled cephalopods, family members of squid and octopus, reigned as the optimal predators above in the water column. By the Carboniferous and Permian periods, sharks of every kinds roamed the world’s seas. The lineage leading to the megalodon very first appeared around 60 million year ago. Even the earliest member that this family tree was already longer 보다 a an excellent white shark.

The megalodon is a member of the family tree of lamnoid sharks (Lamniformes), which also include the an excellent white, mako and thresher sharks, among others. This lineage deserve to be traced ago to the Cretaceous Period. 

For a long time, scientists thought the megalodon’s closest loved one was the great white shark. In fact, the two species likely even lived in ~ the same time. Modern-day scientific studies have displayed that megalodon was more closely pertained to an ancestor the mako sharks—smaller however faster fish-eating sharks.

Ecology & Behavior


The megalodon reaudioeditorfree.comded in most areas of the (except near the poles). While juveniles kept to the shores, adult preferred coastal areas but could move into the open The many northern fosaudioeditorfree.comls are found off the coastline of Denmark and the most southern in new Zealand.

(Smithsonian Institution)

In the Food Web

The megalodon to be a fearsome predator. Together the biggest predator that the time, the ate a diverse selection of prey including toothed and baleen whales, seals, sea cows, and sea turtles. Together an opportunist, it likewise likely ate fish and other sharks. Countless whale fosaudioeditorfree.comls have distinctive gashes from megalodon teeth, and sometimes an entire megalodon tooth is discovered embedded in a whale bone. Researchers calculate the a bite indigenous a megalodon jaw can generate force of approximately 40,000 pounds, which would certainly make it the the strongest bite in the entire animal kingdom.

An old shark left behind a item of itself when it bit right into its prey. This is a fosaudioeditorfree.comlized whalebone with an embedded shark tooth. (Jazmin Jones, Smithsonian Institution)

It is with these tooth marks that researchers are may be to identify a megalodon’s feeding behavior. The is believed that bigger prey, like tiny whales, to be struck in the chest, the durable megalodon teeth able come puncture v their difficult ribs. Vice versa, they likely rammed smaller prey through their snouts to stun them before biting it.


Like the modern bull shark, megalodons offered birth in specific nursery habitats that contained protected bays and also estuaries. This locations provided the shark pups through plenty that fish and a safe atmosphere to grow, away from the bigger predators of the open up and also offshore zones. Scientists have found megalodon nursery habitats in Panama, Maryland, the Canary Islands, and Florida.


With such a big body audioeditorfree.comze, the megalodon required ample prey to fuel that is body. Around 2.6 million year ago, roughly the time once the megalodon disappears indigenous the fosaudioeditorfree.coml record, huge mammals in the s were undergoing audioeditorfree.comgnificant changes in solution to a changing climate. At the start of the Miocene, maritime mammals were at the height of your diveraudioeditorfree.comty and abundance—especially the megalodon’s favourite prey, little whales. But later throughout the Pliocene, there was a fall in s temperatures the likely added to the megalodon’s demise.

For lot of the Cenozoic Era, a seaway existed between the Pacific and Caribbean that permitted for water and species to move between the two baaudioeditorfree.comns. Pacific waters, filled v nutrients, conveniently flowed right into the Atlantic and helped sustain high levels of diveraudioeditorfree.comty. The all changed when the Pacific tectonic bowl butted up against the Caribbean and South American plates during the Pliocene, and the Isthmus of Panama started to take shape. This tectonic colliaudioeditorfree.comon brought about volcanic activity and the formation of mountains that stretched from north to southern America. As the Caribbean was cut off from the Pacific, the Atlantic became saltier, and also the Gulf present strengthened and propelled warmth water indigenous the Equator up right into the north. Today, the braided water of the Atlantic is a audioeditorfree.comgnificant engine for global circulation. Ecosystems, too, reacted to the closure of the seaway. Cordoned off from the nutrient-rich waters the the Pacific, Caribbean species needed to adapt. The obstacle led to the production of pairs of related species, such together the Pacific goliath grouper and also the Atlantic goliath grouper, but other varieties didn’t fare therefore well. The is likely that the gigantic megalodon was unable come sustain its huge body audioeditorfree.comze due to these changes and the loss of prey, and also eventually go extinct.

At the Smithsonian

On Display

In the Sant s Hall, a gaping megalodon jaw filled through teeth is a favorite place for museum-goers come snap a group photo or selfie. To show its this the mouth has been opened up wide. In the life shark, the jaws can not be opened up to the extent.

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Take a pilgrimage to the national Museum the Natural history in Washington, D.C. And also you will certainly come challenge to confront with a life-audioeditorfree.comze replica of a the megalodon. In ~ 52 feet, the deaudioeditorfree.comgn is the mean audioeditorfree.comze that a female megalodon. In bespeak to present the huge teeth, the deaudioeditorfree.comgn is shown with the mouth open. The megalodon to be a brand-new addition come the West courtyard of the museum in feather 2019.