The megalodon, which went extinct millions of years ago, was the largest shark ever to prowl the oceans and one of the largest fish on record. The scientific name, Carcharocles megalodon, means “giant tooth,” and for good reason: Its massive teeth are almost three times larger than the teeth of a modern great white shark. The megalodon’s fossilized bones and teeth give scientists major clues about what the creature was like and when it died off.
Fossil remains of megalodon have been found in shallow tropical and temperate seas along the coastlines and continental shelf regions of all continents except Antarctica. During the early and middle parts of the Miocene Epoch (which lasted from 23 million to 5.3 million years ago), large seaways separated North America from South America and Europe and Asia from Africa and the Middle East, which likely facilitated movement from one ocean basin to another. Throughout the Miocene, megalodon distribution expanded from pockets located in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, in the Bay of Bengal, and along the coasts of California and southern Australia to encompass waters off the coasts of northern Europe, South America, southern Africa, New Zealand, and East Asia. During the Pliocene Epoch, however, megalodon’s geographic range contracted significantly, and it was extinct by the end of the epoch.
What did megalodon eat?
The megalodon was a top-of-the-food-chain predator. It fed on other big marine mammals, like whales and dolphins. It may have even eaten other sharks, according to Discovery.
Researchers think the megalodon would first attack the flipper and tails of the mammals to prevent them from swimming away, then go in for the kill, according to the BBC. The megalodon’s 276 serrated teeth were the perfect tool…