Giants: Carcharocles megalodon

Maximum Length = 52.2 feet (16 metres)
Maximum Weight = 52.5 tons (47.7 tonnes)*

The largest predatory fish and the second-largest carnivore (after the Sperm Whale, Physeter macrocephalus) ever to inhabit our planet.  Best known from its spectacular fossilized teeth, Megalodon must have been an awesome predator in its day.  From deep gashes on whale bones, we know that Megalodon fed on early whales such as the cetotheriids.  It probably also fed on other large sharks, but evidence to support this notion has not been preserved.  Traditionally, Megalodon has been reconstructed as a scaled-up White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias), but new evidence suggests it was only distantly related to that species and therefore probably did not closely resemble it.  Although there is compelling evidence that Megalodon became extinct about 1.6 million years ago, a cadre of cryptozoologists and monster lovers hold hope it may yet live on in our world today.  This is extremely unlikely, as the existence of such a mighty predator would surely make itself known in spectacular and probably unpleasant ways, but the possibility provides fodder for entertaining (if scientifically untenable) novels and movies.

* 1 ton = 2,000 pounds:  1 tonne  = 1,000 kilograms


ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
Text and illustrations R. Aidan Martin
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