Florida Museum of Natural History


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Megalodon: Largest Shark That Ever Lived!

Quick Facts!

* Megalodon vanished 2 million years ago, but when cruising the oceans, it was king.

* Megalodon had 46 front row teeth, 24 in the upper jaw and 22 in the lower. Most sharks have at least six rows of teeth, so a Megalodon had about 276 teeth at any given time.

* Megalodon was about 60 feet long with a body mass of about 77 tons.

* Some scientists estimate that Megalodon ate about 2,500 pounds of food every day, including whales and other large fish.

* Megalodon lived throughout most of the ancient world's oceans, from 17 to 2 million years ago.

* Ancient people collected Megalodon teeth and traditional legends feature giant sharks.

* Megalodon may be extinct but it's still with us...starring in books and movies, on stamps and jewelry, and even in cartoons and video games.

Common Asked Questions About Megalodon

When was Megalodon alive?

Megalodon lived from about 20 to 2 million years ago (mya), leaving behind fossil teeth and (rarely) centra in ancient marine sediments. Megalodon evolved to feed on the giant whales that appeared as the oceans cooled during the Miocene and Pliocene.

Where did Megalodon live?

Megalodon had a worldwide distribution which is often referred to as a "cosmopolitan species". The adults lived offshore (pelagic) while the nursery areas for the young were closer to shore.

Who is Megalodon related to?

Megalodon is a “lamnoid” shark related to modern makos, porbeagles, great whites, and many extinct species. Scientists debate if Megalodon is directly related to the great white shark or if it was an evolutionary “dead-end”.

Why did Megalodon become extinct?

Megalodon became extinct 2 mya. It is believed that during the rapid climate change of the Ice Age, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of large whales that Megalodon fed upon. This, along with competition from other predators (sharks) eventually led to the demise of the Megalodon.

Why is Megalodon important

Megalodon’s extinction carries a conservation message of relevance today. It has helped scientists understand the macroevolution of body size in sharks as well as extinction of top predators. These concepts are applicable to the decline of many modern shark species today.

Misconceptions about Megalodon

Did Megalodon live at the same time as T-rex?

No. Non-feathered dinosaurs went extinct 65 mya. Megalodon evolved 20 mya.

Did Megalodon live at the same time as humans?

No. Megalodon went extinct 2 mya. Modern humans have only been around for 100,000 years

Educators Guide for Megalodon: Largest Shark That Ever Lived!
(Megalodon: Largest Shark that Ever Lived (a traveling exhibit) and this Educator’s Guide were produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History, with support from the National Science Foundation.)

Megalodon PowerPoint Presentation - Dana Ehret, Ph.D. candidate, University of Florida

Fossil Sharks