The megalodon (Otodus megalodon) was the largest shark ever to have lived, so it might not surprise you to hear that this predator also had the biggest teeth of any shark species.
When the monster sharks finally became extinct more than 3.6 million years ago, it left behind the largest shark tooth fossils ever as an astonishing record of its existence.
The biggest megalodon tooth ever found has a slant height of 7.48 inches (19 centimeters). It was discovered in Peru and is the largest megalodon tooth ever unearthed.
Let’s look at some of the most enormous megalodon teeth ever found to truly appreciate just how massive these sharks were.
How Big Is the Largest Megalodon Tooth Ever Found?
The biggest megalodon tooth ever found measured 7.48 inches (19 centimeters) long.
Fossilized megalodon teeth are discovered all over the world and shed light on just how giant the largest ever shark species was.
Megalodon teeth have a reasonably even triangular shape, and to measure tooth size, paleontologists use what is known as the slant height.
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The slant height is the diagonal length measured from the pointed tip of the tooth to the corner of its root. Whichever of the two sides is longest is stated as the tooth’s length.
When looking at the biggest megalodon tooth ever found, anything with a slant height of over 6 inches (15.24 cm) is considered significant.
Most adult megalodon teeth fossils that have been found measure between 4 and 5 inches.
Only about 1% of the many megalodon teeth discovered have a slant height of over 6 inches. So, not only did they come from the largest shark, but they’re also pretty rare teeth.
The world of fossil hunting can be filled with secrecy.
Many colossal shark teeth are stored in natural history museums.
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However, several of the largest megalodon teeth are in private collections and have not been widely seen or evaluated.
Let’s look at the huge shark teeth that have been verified, starting with the biggest known.
7.48 Inches (19 cm) – Ocucaje Desert, Peru
The current world’s largest measured megalodon tooth was found in the Peruvian Ocucaje desert.
The desert is one of the best places in the world to find megalodon teeth, thanks to the Miocene age Pisco Formation that it contains.
As well as large megalodon teeth in excellent condition, the formation is known for exceptionally well-preserved ocean fossils, including whales and dolphins.
Paleontologist Craig Sundell from the University of Kansas inspected the largest tooth and has verified its authenticity.
He discovered that the tooth had been broken, perhaps when it was excavated, but that the glued repair to the crack didn’t affect the tooth’s overall size.
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The biggest megalodon tooth ever found is held in a private collection, with the owner choosing to remain anonymous.
7.25 Inches (18.42 cm) – South Carolina
The avid diver and shark tooth collector Vito Bertucci discovered the second largest known megalodon tooth in a South Carolina river bed.
Scuba diving for megalodon teeth in South Carolina rivers can be incredibly hazardous thanks to the poor visibility, strong currents, underwater objects, and even alligators.
However, the Cooper River in particular often produces excellent megalodon teeth that have been washed out of the fossil-bearing layers it passes through as it flows to the Atlantic at Charleston, making the challenge attractive to many people.
Sadly, diving for the largest shark teeth claimed the life of the “Megalodon Man” Vito Bertucci in 2004. He would never return from his final dive, hunting for his favorite fossils.
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Vito’s huge upper anterior megalodon tooth is now in the collection of Dr. Gordon Hubbell from Gainesville, Florida, who is considered to have one of the world’s largest and best-preserved collections of fossil shark teeth.
7.25 Inches (18.42 cm) – Peru
Another contestant for the second largest megalodon tooth was discovered in Peru by Pete Larson of the South Dakota Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.
There is some dispute about the accurate slant height of this tooth as it is known to have been repaired, having been found broken.
Some experts believe the tooth’s root has been artificially elongated, resulting in the tooth being unnaturally long.
Whether the restoration work increased the length or not, this is still a colossal shark tooth and, without a doubt, deserves its place on any list of large megalodon teeth.
How Big Can a Megalodon Tooth Get?
Rumors of bigger megalodon teeth are widespread amongst the fossil collecting community.
However, from all the available evidence, it’s generally regarded that the 7-inch teeth that have been discovered and verified to date are about as big as a megalodon tooth will probably get.
Stories about secretly hidden 7 ½ or 8-inch teeth have often been told but are never backed up with evidence.
For example, some collectors in Peru anecdotally insist that there is a 7.55 inch (19.18 cm) tooth in a collection there.
Scientists have used the known teeth to give the megalodon a maximum length of nearly 20 meters (66 ft) and an average length for the species of about 10.5 meters (34 ft). They feel confident that this is about the largest possible for the shark.
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However, it is possible that one day a new giant tooth might be discovered that sets a new record.
As we’ve already mentioned, megalodon teeth over 6 inches, let alone 7 inches, are very rare.
Many collectors go a whole lifetime without finding a specimen that large. However, on occasion, they turn up in unexpected places.
Has a Megalodon Jaw Ever Been Found?
No, a megalodon jaw has never been found because, like the rest of its skeleton, the jaw was made from cartilage rather than bone.
Unlike the hard tooth dentin, which was readily fossilized, the cartilage of the biggest shark ever was quickly broken down in saltwater by bacteria. Hence, all megalodon jaws will have disappeared millions of years ago.
To estimate the average and maximum sizes of the animal, paleontologists have used the huge fossilized teeth to construct jaw models.
Bashford Dean created the first megalodon jaw reconstruction at the American Museum of Natural History in 1909.
It is now regarded that Dean overestimated the thickness of the jaw cartilage, meaning that his model was taller than in reality.
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The Smithsonian Institution has a set of replica megalodon jaws built in 1992 by the paleontologist John Maisey.
The jaws feature an almost complete set of megalodon teeth found in North Carolina.
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The Smithsonian model measures six feet (1.8 m) across and is believed to represent a megalodon shark measuring 40 feet (12 m) in length.
In addition to finding one of the largest ever megalodon teeth, Vito Bertucci assembled a replica megalodon jaw containing 182 real fossil shark teeth in four rows, including four measuring over 7 inches.
The jaw measured 9 1/2 feet (2.9 m) high x 11 feet (3.35 m) wide and is considered one of the most realistic attempts to date.
Megalodon Tooth FAQs
What Was the Largest Megalodon?
The largest megalodon is believed to have had a maximum length of nearly 20 meters (66 ft).
The female of the species was the largest. Fully grown, the animal could weigh as much as 60,000 kg (131,000 lb).
Where Are Most Megalodon Teeth Found?
Megalodon teeth have been found on every continent on earth except for Antarctica.
They can be uncovered in prehistoric coastal marine deposits left from the Early Miocene to the Pliocene epochs.
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In the United States, most megalodon teeth are found around the southeastern Atlantic coast. Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Maryland are particularly well-known for their fossilized shark tooth finds.
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Globally, Peru is one of the countries best known for finding megalodon teeth in large quantities.
Java, Indonesia, has been the source of some of the most valuable shark teeth, thanks to the incredible colors that can be found.
How Much Is a Large Megalodon Tooth Worth?
A large megalodon tooth in good condition could be worth several thousands of dollars. For example, we found a 6 1/8″ long tooth collected from West Java, Indonesia, on sale for $4,850.00.
The value of a large tooth will be related mainly to its size, condition, and coloring.
“Collector quality” undamaged teeth with a well-defined tip and serrated edges, exhibiting an unusual coloration, and that haven’t had any restoration work are going to be worth the most.
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The original location of the tooth can also affect its price. Export and collection bans from some countries or sites mean that teeth from there command higher prices due to their scarcity.
Teeth over 7″ long are very rare, so if a tooth measures bigger than that, the seller can practically name their price!
How Old Are Megalodon Teeth You Can Find on the Beach?
The megalodon sharks lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, so any megalodon teeth found on beaches must be at least 3.6 million years old!
In May 2022, a six-year-old boy found a megalodon tooth on Bawdsey beach in Suffolk, UK.
Local experts determined that it could be up to 20 million years old. Just imagine how thrilled he must have been with the discovery!
How Many Megalodons Are Left in the World?
There aren’t megalodons left in the world.
The giant sharks became extinct at least 3.6 million years ago, and there is no scientific evidence that they still exist.
Is There a Fish Bigger Than Megalodon?
The megalodon is the biggest shark ever to have lived.
However, other colossal fish were swimming in the oceans in prehistoric times.
The closest competitor to the megalodon in size is likely to be the leedsichthys, amongst the largest fish ever.
Leedsichthys became extinct around 145 million years ago. So, it never swam in the same seas as the megalodon.
Like the megalodon sharks, scientists don’t have complete leedsichthys skeletons to measure due to the cartilage components being lost millions of years ago.
Some estimates suggest this fish could have reached as much as 98 feet (30 m) long.
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Unlike the predatory megalodon, the giant leedsichthys was a filter feeder, the same as the two largest fish today, the whale shark and basking shark.
Megalodon sharks lived simultaneously with another super predator, the livyatan sperm whales.
These giant whales have been estimated to measure up to 57 feet in length (17.5 m), and they competed with the megalodon for meals of sharks, dolphins, seals, and other large marine vertebrates.
As the biggest sharks ever to have lived, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the megalodon had the biggest teeth.
The biggest Megalodon tooth ever found measured 7.48 inches (19 centimeters) from the pointed tip to its root.
Teeth this size are extremely rare and, accordingly, very valuable.
So, if you’re ever lucky enough to discover a giant sharks tooth, it could be like winning the lottery!
British-born Dan has been a scuba instructor and guide in Egypt's Red Sea since 2010.
Dan loves inspiring safe, fun, and environmentally responsible diving and particularly enjoys the opportunity to dive with sharks or investigate local shipwrecks.
When not spending time underwater, Dan can usually be found biking and hiking in Sharm's desert surroundings.