Megalodon (Meg-ah-low-don), big Tooth, the largest carnivorous shark ever known, lived in Late Oligocene to Early Pleistocene. It evolved about the same time the baleen and tooth whales were diversifying. It became extinct as the world grew colder and whales spent more time in the Arctic and Antarctic.
Genera and Species
Classification: Chondrichthyes, ?Elasmobranchii, ?Lamniformes
Species: C. Megalodon
Synonyms: Procarcharodon megalodon, ?Megaselachus megalodon .
Megalodon had big teeth that were much larger than those of the living Great White shark. The skeletons of sharks are made up of '?soft' ?cartilage, ?but the vertebrate are made up of harder calcified cartilage. It had a movable upper jaw like modern sharks, that not only moved up and down ?but could be projected forward independent from the rest of the body. ?
LENGTH: 15 - 17 m (49 - 56 ft).
WEIGHT: 47 – 103 tons.
Megalodon was specialized to prey on whales and other marine mammals. The Great White shark is the best modern model for Megalodon behavior. Hunting whales would have been a challenge, and they shared the ocean with predatory toothed whales and the baleen whales which also retained teeth for much of this time. Whales are large, intelligent and social, so a pod could be expected to have reacted to Megalodon just as dolphins defend against modern sharks.
History of Discovery
Discovery, Agassiz ?- ?1843, it is known from teeth and less common vertebrae. Fossil shark teeth are common fossils as a shark loses and regenerates teeth throughout it life.
Found globally in tropical and temperate climates.