5 Things We Know About Megalodon (The Largest Shark In The World)
The Megalodon shark (Carcharodon Megalodon), is thought to have been the biggest sea predator to have ever lived. This now legendary sea creature, was the ultimate predator of the sea around 2 million years ago, and is a truly fascinating creature to read about. Here are five quick and interesting facts, that researchers know about this awesome, once ruler of the ocean.
5 The Megalodon Was HUGE
It is believed the biggest male individual Megalodon, was around 100 feet long (that is around 30 meters), and weighed roughly 50 to 60 metric tons. This is the length of four Great White Sharks and the weight of around eight Tyrannosaurus Rex's! If that scale is hard to imagine, then picture this. The Megalodon was around 75% the size of a standard US Navy Ship, therefore with a simple twist of its tail, it could have easily sank one of those ships.
4 The Most Powerful Bite In History
If we needed something to describe how terrifying a Megalodon can be in our days, it would be the 'Jaws' movie. In fact, the movie should have been about a megalodon not a Great White.
The T-Rex from the 'Jurassic Park' series, is known to have enormous teeth. Well this would have been fairly small compared to Megalodon's teeth. This sea monster's gnashers were truly gigantic, and so it needed a huge mouth to fit them in. The largest known megalodon mouth fossils to date, were reconstructed by fossil collector, Vito Bertucci, and they measure 11 feet (3.4 meters) wide, and almost 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall. That's big enough to swallow a whole school bus, with room to spare.
If you combine a large jaw and huge teeth, what do you get? The most powerful bite in history. In 2008, a group of scientists estimated the bite force of the Megalodon to be between 24,000 to 41,000 pounds of force (106,757 to 182,377 Newtons). That's about ten times stronger, than the bite of a Great White shark!
3 Megalodon's Menu
Megalodons were at the top of the food chain, meaning they had a lot of 'dishes' to choose from. Their favourite being whales, but during their peak, nothing could stop them, not even the other giants of the sea, like the Kronosaurus or the Liopleurodon. This meant, that megalodon could feed on almost everything. Killer Whales, Sperm Whales, Humpback Whales, Bowhead Whales, Fin Whales and even the giant Blue Whale. The most interesting thing about their diet though, is the fact they were known to hunt smaller sharks, and even baby megalodons, making them cannibalistic predators as well.
A recent discovery left scientists to think, that maybe the megalodon was not in fact, the ultimate predator after all. It is thought the Megalodon was very hostile towards a newly discovered species of ancient octopus. A part of this giant, Kraken-like octopus was recently discovered preserved in rocks, with strange and massive jaw marks covering it. Based on the size of the jaw bite, and the diameter of the tooth marks, they were definitely caused by a Megalodon. This led researchers to think, that maybe the Megalodon could not take on 'everything' as once thought. No one knows the exact size of this Kraken-like octopus species, as it was only recently discovered, so scientist are struggling to determine its size. However, they estimated, that the length of this beasts tentacles were at least as big as a baby Megalodon (around 50-60 feet, 15-20 meters). So, maybe this is one species the megalodon couldn't make its dinner.
2 Megalodon's Extinction
What led to this giant's extinction? Well, there is only one theory, which most researchers agree on. The megalodon went extinct due to the cooling of the world's oceans.
It is known that the Megalodon could not thrive in cold waters, which is why they avoided the polar seas, and much preferred to live and give birth in warm waters around Australia, Spain and North America. As the water cooled around the planet, the Megalodons moved around in search of warmer water. Eventually, with all of the ocean cooling, there was no place for the Megalodon to thrive and give birth, causing them to go extinct. This would have been made worse by the fact that whales...the preferred food of the Megalodons, had adapted and moved to cooler waters, making feeding harder for the giant shark.
So, what caused Megalodons "possible" extinction? The most believed and accepted theory, is starvation.
1 Are Megalodons Still Alive, Lurking Deep Within The Ocean?
Probably the strongest proof of Megalodon's current existence is the sudden disappearance of a 9 foot (2.7 meter) long female shark in 2003. The female shark had been tagged near the east coast of Australia, so researchers could track its movements. All of a sudden, around 2 months later, this tracker was found washed up on a beach. When scientists checked the data, which was stored on the device, they couldn't believe what had happened. The tracker revealed that the creature had suddenly plunged around 1,900 feet (580m) deep into the ocean within seconds. Much faster and deep than this shark could have dived to. Shortly after, the device registered a rapid temperature rise, to a temperature you'd find only in the digestive system of a creature. The tag stayed at that temperature for days, occasionally moving nearer to the surface, only to plunge deep down into the ocean again. As far as we know, their is no known creature that is capable of eating an entire great white shark with one bite, leading a few marine specialists to believe, that this shark was killed by the "thought" to be extinct, king of the ocean.
I wish, that at least one of those beasts could be alive, so we could look and examine it's marvelous life-style and wonders.This legendary monster was (and maybe, still is) a unique creature in the marine domain and a reminder that the ocean has many secrets.
One thing's for sure, you never know, what's hiding in the deepest parts of the ocean.