Meet the largest shark to ever exist: The Megalodon (Carcharodon megalodon).
The Megalodon is extinct.
The fact that the Megalodon is extinct needs to be shared first and foremost, because over recent years, Discover Channel’s Shark Week has not accurately portrayed that very real fact. In a reckless and irresponsible move, Shark Week has been perpetuating the idea that The Megalodon is still alive. This continues to drive shark fears, doing nothing to educate the populous on the very real danger that humans are to sharks. Don’t believe me? Read THIS National Geographic Article.
The Megalodon went extinct at the start of the Pleistocene era (around 2 million years ago). Before that, it ruled the sea as the fiercest apex predator. They are believed to have survived on a diet of whales. Though there is a lot of question how they survived as long as they did (Oligocene to Pleistocene), because sustaining a body that large would take a lot of food.
Great White sharks are probably the closest resemblance of a Megalodon, though Great Whites pale in size comparison. However, it is not actually known if Great White’s resemble the Megalodon. Since sharks are made of cartilage (and not bones) the information scientists have gathered about the megalodon have been mostly from teeth. Their teeth are still found around the world, mostly around the Eastern coast of the Americas. Megalodon translates to “megatooth”, it’s jaws were believed to be the most powerful ever, strong enough to crush a modern day car.
It’s pretty crazy to think about a 20 Meter long shark patrolling out there, with teeth the size of human hands. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that. We can just do our best to use the data available to imagine a time when Saber Toothed Tigers hunted on land and Megalodons hunted in our oceans.