A large prehistoric shark, probably the largest predatory fish (bony or cartilaginous) that ever lived. Reached lengths of up to 67 feet.

Died out at the end of the Pleistocene, though some thin evidence indicates megalodon may have lived up until a mere 10,000 years ago. Some people believe it is possible that megalodon survives somewhere today; Steve Alten's book Meg is based on this theory. Most scientists consider this theory to be a bunch of crap.

A famous photograph exists of six paleontologists posing "inside" a set of megalodon jaws which now reside at the Smithsonian.

"That is a pretty big shark."

This "rough toothed" giant shark was bigger than your school bus. It was estimated to be between forty and a hundred feet in length. It probably subsisted on a diet of whales, as it could eat a great white shark without having to carve it up with a fork and knife first. With a mouth that is believed to be capable of opening to a width of seven feet and a height of six feet, most church-going people could be snapped up easily at a summer swim party with little or no effort from our Carcharodon megalodon.

"I saw one yesterday. It ate my baby."

Most people believe that the Carcharodon megalodon is extinct, but you'll find some nesting groups who insist they continue to sneak around in the deep ocean. They are believed by most to have died out a million and a half years ago during the Pliocene Epoch. The fossilized teeth, the only remnants to be found of an ancient creature made up mostly of cartilage, have been as much as sixty centimeters long.

...the better to eat you with...

Originally, there were these giant teeth that the natives of New Caledonia had discovered and for many centuries considered to be the tongues of petrified monster snakes. Then some 16th century French scientist types began to consider other possibilities to what they considered the naivety of the natives. It was a Swiss feller by the name of Louis Agassiz who made it official with an 1835 declaration that these were remnants of "a shark with big teeth."

"Is it getting cold in here
Or is it just me?"

As many might already know, the that Pliocene business was somehow related to an Ice Age. The shark with the big teeth was plenty used to swimming in warm waters and it probably did not take kindly to the sudden chilliness of the water of the oceans. A right nasty monster weighing 20 to 25 tons that ate whales and dolphins, it caught a bit of a chill during the Ice Age and died off. Unless, of course, you believe the stories of them diving to special warm depths of the ocean and living in hiding awaiting the day when they will emerge and destroy us all.

"I need me some new chompers!"

They do some dredging out there in the South Pacific, and have pulled up quite the collection of Carcharodon megalodon teeth. Various shops and online stores have them available. You can purchase a simple fossilized tooth or one that has been made into jewelry, engraved upon, or otherwise turned into a pretty kind of art. There isn't anything else. Just teeth. They aren't around anymore and they were made out of cartilage. Of course, unless you believe the stories...

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Chondrichthyes
Subclass: Elasmobranchii
Order: Lamniformes
Family: Lamnidae or Otodontidae
Genus: Carcharodon or Carcharocles

Much of the debate on Family and Genus centers on whether or not the Mr. Megatooth was an ancestor of the great white or something else...

Sources: Florida Museum of Natural History
The Megatooth shark, Carcharodon megalodon, John Clay Bruner, 1997
South Pacific Online (www.sponline.com)
Some weird dude I had an argument about this with over the weekend.
(He seems to have been more correct than I)

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