The word “megalodon” is a compound of two Greek words and means “giant tooth.” After seeing megalodon teeth, you will realize truer words have never been spoken! The megalodon shark has been an elusive creature for millions of years, creating more mystery than answering questions.
Fossils attributed to the megalodon shark go back as far as 23 million years to 2.58 million years ago. These fossils are primarily the teeth found in the shallow, tropical waters along the coastlines and continental shelves of most continents except Antarctica.
So widely spread, megalodon teeth have been found all over the United States. These teeth are common along shorelines, in saltwater creek beds, and in rivers all over the world. Fossilized megalodon teeth have been found in areas including:
Common Areas to Dig Up Megalodon Teeth
- South Carolina Blackwater Rivers
- Aurora, North Carolina
- Peace River, Florida
- Venice Beach, Florida
Sharks are made up mostly of cartilage, which rarely fossilizes, and makes the discovery of megalodon teeth that much more remarkable. These sharks are believed to have grown as large as sixty feet long with a bite radius of about nine feet. The ocean floors and continental shelves are littered with rows and rows of megalodon teeth, thousands of which are shed over a lifetime.
The average great white shark sheds teeth that typically measure three inches in length. Megalodon teeth measure a robust nine inches with serrated edges, much like the edge of a knife, offering technical precision when attacking and dismembering their prey.
Megalodon sharks enjoyed global distribution and were found in warm, deep waters all over the world. These predators dominated the deep and avoided the shallow waters closer to shore. Due to their size, they would have beached themselves as surely as some of the larger ships in modern times.
It is hard to say if the fascination with this behemoth can be attributed to the mythological pretense surrounding its storied existence. Or is the obsession based on the reality of its predatory dominance in its day? You can decide after considering these few myths.
Myth 1: Great White Sharks are Direct Descendants of Megalodon Sharks
Or are they? Hotly debated amongst scientists for many decades, the lineage of the megalodon and the great white has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the same genus. The megalodon shark belongs to the larger shark genus Carcharodon. The Great White Shark belongs to the genus Carcharodon carcharias.
Long story, short – avoid bringing up the topic at your next dinner party with paleontologists. Or be a conversational hero and suggest that the process of convergent evolution is an exciting option. Then quickly excuse yourself from the conversation!
Theories are giving the great white direct responsibility for the extinction of the megalodon. However, some scientists believe other factors could be at play as well.
The climate was changing, cooling, and creating variations in sea level and available water space. Additionally, scientific eyes have turned to other possible culprits – the modern tiger shark and hammerhead shark were making their global debut and often lingered near the swimming areas of juvenile megalodon sharks.
Myth 2: Megalodon Sharks are Hiding in the Earth’s Deepest Waters
Thanks to Hollywood blockbusters like “The Meg” and erroneous information in a 2013 Discovery Channel Shark Week special, talk of megalodon sharks currently swimming in open waters began trending in popular culture.
The supposedly educational Discovery Channel special issued a brief disclaimer that the show was fictional, but that did not dissuade die-hard shark fans from believing the long-extinct monster of the deep had made a resurgence.
The 2013 documentary proved on a grand scale that interest in the megalodon shark still exists and enjoys a rather large following. Shortly following the documentary, the Hollywood film “The Meg” hit movie theaters, proving that obsession with this shark was still alive and well. While the film may have had a few facts wrong, like the existence of a megalodon shark in the present day, it did raise awareness regarding this fascinating monster and made a strong point: there are still many questions to be answered about this mythic monster of the deep.
Myth 3: Megalodon Sharks Were the Apex Predator of Their Time
While the mature megalodon did not face many predators, the newly birthed and juvenile sharks faced large predatory sharks such as hammerheads and tiger sharks. It is believed the megalodon shark may have faced challenges from predators such as:
Possible Predators of the Megalodon Shark
- sperm whale
- fin whale
- blue whale
- Sei whale
- Triassic kraken
- colossal squid
It is hard to believe that this mythical behemoth ever faced another creature equal to its ferocity. It may have also been overtaken by a Leviathan or a Mosasaurus, but then we would have to debate whether they lived in the same time period. And, really, wouldn’t we rather talk about how extra cute megalodon teeth are?
At three times the size of a great white shark with a nine-foot bite radius and the strongest bite force of any animal ever known, the megalodon shark is both a mystery and a reality to be reckoned with. Most of the information we have on this beguiling beast is discovered from the study of its teeth, jawbone, and little fossilized cartilage. The theories and discoveries are sure to continue.
Megalodon teeth, discarded by the thousands along the earth’s water basins, remain a rare and wonderful find for even the most novice fossil collector. Impressive in size and startling in serrated style, megalodon teeth are the captivating centerpiece of any fossil display. These teeth memorialize the spirit of a true predator.
When developing your fossil collection, the quality and authenticity of your relics remain a top priority. You come to depend on your purveyor of magnificent fossils to provide the treasures that bring reality to your mythical obsessions. That is why we collect fossils like megalodon teeth – to dare to dream of the creatures that once were so we can better understand who we are now.