What does megalodon mean?

Definitions for megalodon

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  1. megalodonnoun

    Any of a group of extinct sharks from the Oligocene to Pleistocene epochs


  1. Megalodon

    Megalodon (Otodus megalodon), meaning "big tooth", is an extinct species of mackerel shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago (Mya), from the Early Miocene to the Pliocene epochs. It was formerly thought to be a member of the family Lamnidae and a close relative of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias). However, it is now classified into the extinct family Otodontidae, which diverged from the great white shark during the Early Cretaceous. While regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators to have ever lived, the megalodon is only known from fragmentary remains, and its appearance and maximum size are uncertain. Scientists differ on whether it would have more closely resembled a stockier version of the great white shark, the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) or the sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus). The most recent estimate with the least error range suggests a maximum length estimate up to 20 meters (66 ft), although the modal lengths are estimated at 10.5 meters (34 ft). Extrapolation from a vertebral centra with dimensions based on the great white shark suggests that a megalodon about 16 meters (52 ft) long weighs up to 48 metric tons (53 short tons), 17 meters (56 ft) long weighs up to 59 metric tons (65 short tons), and 20.3 meters (67 ft) long (the maximum length) weighs up to 103 metric tons (114 short tons). Extrapolating from a vertebral column and reconstructing a 3D model with dimensions based on all extant lamnid sharks suggests that a 16-meter-long (52 ft) individual may have been much larger than previous estimates, reaching an excess of 61.5 metric tons (67.8 short tons) in body mass; an individual of this size would have needed to consume 98,175 kcal per day. Their teeth were thick and robust, built for grabbing prey and breaking bone, and their large jaws could exert a bite force of up to 108,500 to 182,200 newtons (24,400 to 41,000 lbf).Megalodon probably had a major impact on the structure of marine communities. The fossil record indicates that it had a cosmopolitan distribution. It probably targeted large prey, such as whales, seals and sea turtles. Juveniles inhabited warm coastal waters and fed on fish and small whales. Unlike the great white, which attacks prey from the soft underside, megalodon probably used its strong jaws to break through the chest cavity and puncture the heart and lungs of its prey. The animal faced competition from whale-eating cetaceans, such as Livyatan and other macroraptorial sperm whales and possibly smaller ancestral killer whales. As the shark preferred warmer waters, it is thought that oceanic cooling associated with the onset of the ice ages, coupled with the lowering of sea levels and resulting loss of suitable nursery areas, may have also contributed to its decline. A reduction in the diversity of baleen whales and a shift in their distribution toward polar regions may have reduced megalodon's primary food source. The shark's extinction coincides with a gigantism trend in baleen whales.


  1. Megalodon

    Megalodon is an extinct species of shark that lived approximately 28 to 1.5 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era. The taxonomic assignment of C. megalodon has been debated for nearly a century, and is still under dispute. The two major interpretations are Carcharodon megalodon or Carcharocles megalodon. Consequently, the scientific name of this species is commonly abbreviated C. megalodon in the literature. C. megalodon is regarded as one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history, and likely had a profound impact on the structure of marine communities. Fossil remains suggest that this giant shark reached a maximum length of 15.9–20.3 metres, and also affirm that it had a cosmopolitan distribution. Scientists suggest that C. megalodon looked like a stockier version of the great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias.

Editors Contribution

  1. megalodon

    Big tooth shark.

    Submitted by anonymous on April 23, 2018  

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of megalodon in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of megalodon in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of megalodon in a Sentence

  1. Professor Long:

    We palaeontologists know that we can never find everything that ever once existed, but its unlikely something bigger in the shark world than megalodon ever existed or at least we would have clues about it — like a tooth or giant scale or something. Frankly nothing bigger than megalodon could have existed as there was likely not enough food to support it. It’s the same argument why lions are top of the food chain in Africa today.

  2. Professor Long:

    In all my years as a kid collecting fossilized shark teeth around Victorian sites (I had over 500 specimens), I only ever found one half of a large megalodon tooth.

  3. Michael Griffiths:

    Like great whites today, they likely fed on large fish. The smaller sized great whites likely did not require as much food as megalodon did, so they would have had the competitive advantage if they were feeding on similar prey items.

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"megalodon." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 7 Dec. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/megalodon>.

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