“Could the megalodon still be alive?” is a question that is pretty reasonable to ask.
After all, who wouldn’t want to be sure that the biggest apex predator shark ever roamed the world’s oceans was extinct before they took a swim or went scuba diving?
The good news is that we can confirm the megalodon became extinct over 3.6 million years ago.
Megalodon sharks only exist today in the fossil record of teeth found embedded in rock around the world.
However, some people think that the megalodon still exists. Perhaps due to fake news about the largest shark or an unhealthy skepticism in science.
So, we’re going to investigate the facts that show the answer to is the megalodon still alive is a clear no.
After all, as Emma Bernard from the Natural History Museum in London puts it, ‘If an animal as big as megalodon still lived in the oceans, we would know about it.’
Are Megalodons Still Alive?
Are megalodons still alive? No!
Megalodon (Otodus megalodon) lived between 23 to 3.6 million years ago. The largest shark ever was extinct well before modern humans appeared about 300,000 years ago.
There’s no evidence, fossil or otherwise, that megalodons survived past these dates, and the scientific community is absolutely confident that the enormous shark is no longer around.
Was the megalodon real? Yes, absolutely, although any models you see in museums are based on educated guesses.
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Thanks to the shark’s cartilage skeleton, there aren’t any complete fossilized remains to measure.
However, by studying fossil teeth and other evidence, paleontologists and shark experts agree that the megalodon could grow as large as 20 meters (66 ft).
The idea that such a colossal predator could live in the seas without being noticed is impossible to believe.
However, some attempts have been made to convince the public that the megalodon is still alive, so we’ll explain why that’s not true.
The megalodon (meaning big tooth) is the biggest shark known to have lived. It was over three times longer than the biggest modern great white shark and pretty much ruled the seas unopposed for a period.
Megalodon shark remains have been found in almost all of the world’s oceans, and it’s believed that they tended to stay in coastal waters where they could maintain their giant bodies by feeding on dolphins, whales, seals, sea turtles, and other sharks.
Fossil shark teeth and the occasional rare vertebrae section are all that remains now of these incredible creatures.
By studying these and using technologies, including carbon dating, the scientific community has accurately determined when the megalodon completely disappeared from the seas.
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As we will see later, there are some pretty compelling reasons why the enormous sharks’ time was up.
Why Isn’t It Possible That the Megalodon Is Still Alive?
There’s not only a complete lack of evidence of a megalodon still being alive, but there are also many important reasons why the massive shark couldn’t still be alive. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant.
No One Has Ever Seen a Living Megalodon or Any Evidence of It
It’s beyond improbable that a 20-meter (66 ft) long 60,000 kg (131,000 lb) shark population is swimming around, and yet no one has ever seen them!
Megalodon fossils show that the giant shark stayed close to the shore where it could feed, so if there were any megalodons still in the oceans, someone would definitely have seen them.
There Are No Modern Megalodon Teeth!
We know so much about the prehistoric megalodon from fossil teeth found in considerable quantities in the fossil record dating from 23 to 3.6 million years ago.
Like other sharks, the megalodon had a continuing conveyer belt of teeth ready in its jaw. When one tooth was lost during the shark’s natural life, the next one was ready to replace it.
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It’s estimated that sharks get through about 40,000 teeth during their lives, and they all end up falling to the seabed. This is the reason there are so many fossilized megalodon teeth.
Remember that megalodon teeth are known to have reached 18.4 centimeters (7.25 in) in height, so it wouldn’t be hard to find more recent megalodon fossils if they existed.
However, megalodon tooth fossils disappeared from geological fossil record layers after the recognized extinction point.
The idea that a population of sharks could have been living undiscovered for the last 3.6 million years, having suddenly stopped dropping any teeth as fossil evidence on the ocean floor, is improbable, to say the least.
There’s Never Been a Modern Animal Found With Megalodon Wounds
Shark attacks inevitably leave telltale bite marks on large prey, and experts can use these to identify the species that made the bite.
Prehistoric whale bones have been found with recognizable wounds and even megalodon teeth embedded in them, which the shark lost while attacking.
Yet, no one has ever found a whale or other animal showing evidence of a modern megalodon attack.
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There’s Not Enough Food in the Modern Ocean To Support the Megalodon
Megalodons needed to eat a tremendous amount of food.
If the megalodon were still alive, the world population of dolphins and smaller whales living in the warmer waters preferred by the mega shark would have been decimated thousands of years ago.
Modern ocean ecologies simply don’t have the food capacity for colossal apex predators to be able to survive.
Megalodon Sharks Can’t Be Hiding in the Deepest Parts of the Ocean
Some people suggest that megalodon sharks have retreated to the extreme depths of the ocean, including places like the Mariana Trench, and that’s why we don’t see them.
This is impossible.
Firstly, although there are some strange and scary animals in the Mariana Trench, you won’t find anything large enough in sufficient numbers to feed a megalodon shark.
Secondly, the deep ocean is cold. Megalodon sharks liked relatively warm water. In fact, it is believed that dropping temperatures in the world’s oceans towards the end of the Pliocene era may have contributed to the giant shark’s extinction.
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The idea that families of megalodon sharks could be living in the depths where there isn’t an appropriate food source and the water is too cold for them to survive is not comprehensible.
What are the chances that megalodon is still alive? None. So why do stories persist that the enormous sharks are still lurking in the depths? Let’s try and find out.
Why Do Some People Think Megalodon Is Still Alive?
According to science, they can’t be alive. However, some people still think the megalodon is swimming freely in the ocean.
The answer to why mainly lies in people being tricked by fake news about the megalodon still being alive or in them choosing to be skeptical and refusing to believe that the shark couldn’t exist despite the evidence.
It may also be an innocent acceptance that Hollywood movies like The Meg represent real life.
It’s clear that “is the megalodon still alive” is answered with a clear no, as we’ve seen.
However, let’s try and look at some of the reasons why someone might think the shark is still alive.
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Controversy sells books, movies, and tv shows and makes great advertising clickbait on the internet. There has been no shortage of all of these regarding the megalodon shark.
The most famous example was the fake Discovery Channel Shark Week “documentary” from 2013 called “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives.”
The show received a lot of criticism for presenting unfounded fiction that the giant shark was still alive as a documentary.
However, many viewers took the program and the information presented as fact leading to a dramatic increase in the number of people believing the megalodon was still alive.
Most of the marine biologists and witnesses were played by actors and represented fictional characters.
Real scientists featured later claimed that their interviews were edited by the Discovery Channel to present an inaccurate view.
The Discovery Channel even stated later that the show was for entertainment and merely suggested: “what if?”.
However, the belief that the megalodon was still alive was already ingrained in many people.
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If you’re interested in a real documentary, you should check out the National Geographic Channels “Prehistoric Predators: Monster Shark.” It accurately depicts the extinct megalodon.
Fake Photos and Movies
Photos and movies have been proved to be faked to try and prove that the megalodon was still alive.
One famous example, the supposed film of a Nazi U-Boat from 1945 shown motoring at the surface with a huge dorsal and tail in the background, was proven fake when journalists discovered the original, undoctored footage.
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Skepticism and questioning information being presented to you is good, especially in the days of fake news.
However, as we’ve already discussed, believing that just because not every liter or gallon of the deep seas has been explored, the megalodon could still be hiding in the dark depths somewhere ignores the facts.
The deep oceans are inhospitable and don’t provide the type of food or the warm water temperatures that the megalodon needs.
Claims Recent Megalodon Teeth Have Been Discovered
In the 1950s, scientists found megalodon teeth in fossil record samples dredged from the ocean floors around New Caledonia.
At the time, tests appeared to show that the teeth were between 11,000 and 24,000 years old, meaning that the megalodon had been alive significantly more recently than thought.
However, subsequently, the manganese dioxide dating process used on the megalodon fossils has been found to be invalid.
Modern testing methods have shown that the teeth were between 23 and 5 million years old, so they fit with accepted extinction dates.
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Could Another Giant Shark (Like the Whale Shark) Be Mistaken for a Megalodon?
There are huge sharks in our modern oceans.
The plankton-eating whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) can reach a near megalodon matching length of 18.8 m (61.7 ft).
However, it has a distinctive shark covered in spots, so a misidentification as a predator is unlikely to even a keen imagination.
The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second largest fish and reaches as much as 14 meters (46 ft).
With their body shape and coloring, it’s possible to imagine basking sharks could be mistaken for the ancient giant predator.
So, it could be that the sightings of giant sharks claimed as megalodons could just be an innocent case of mistaken identity.
It’s worth remembering that the biggest great white shark ever was 6.1 m (20 ft) in length, considerably smaller than the giant megalodon.
Who or What Killed the Last Megalodon Shark?
What killed off the megalodon? How long ago did they live?
The megalodon shark lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago.
However, what caused megalodon extinction is subject to more discussion.
The leading theory suggests that the megalodon was killed off when the oceans cooled at the end of the Pliocene era.
As the seas cooled, many of the megalodon’s usual prey of large marine animals died off, which contributed to the giant shark being starved of food.
Other prey may have moved on to cooler waters where the megalodon couldn’t live successfully.
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Another problem caused by falling temperatures was that sea levels dropped, and the megalodon may have lost access to the shallow tropical waters where its young lived in protection from predators.
Combined with the degradation of their pupping grounds and a reduction in available food overall, it’s thought that other sharks, including early relatives of the great white shark and killer whales, could outcompete the giant megalodon for what food was available.
Simply put, the cooler and smaller ocean no longer had the space for the huge megalodon.
What Would Happen if Megalodons Were Still Alive Today?
What are the chances that megalodon is still alive? Simply put, none.
If megalodons were still alive, there wouldn’t be any water sports in the ocean as everyone would be too frightened to get in!
The seas would also be stripped of larger life, including dolphins, sea turtles, and smaller whales.
Large whales would be washing up, showing horrific injuries, and fishermen would have trouble protecting their catch as they hauled it in from giant sharks.
Fossil hunters and dredgers would be finding thousands of megalodon shark teeth. Remember that just one shark could lose 40,000 teeth in its life, so people would discover huge megalodon teeth all the time.
Do megalodons still exist? No, and there are many reasons to be thankful!
Did Megalodon Evolve Into Another Sea Predator?
All the evidence shows that the lineage of the megatooth sharks ended when the megalodon became extinct.
The megatooth shark family Otodontidae contains five other extinct mackerel sharks that lived between the Cretaceous and Pliocene eras, about 130 to 3.6 million years ago.
Scientists have tracked the megatooth sharks’ evolutionary history, starting with Cretalamna appendiculata from the Early Cretaceous.
The megatooth shark’s teeth show changes in shape, the level of serration, and size as the family evolved up until the megalodon.
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Eventually, these otodontid sharks all disappeared from the earth as the oceans cooled, and there was no longer the ecological space for the enormous predatory beasts.
Scientists once considered that great white sharks were a relative of the megalodon due to the similar triangular shape and serrated edges of both species’ teeth.
However, it is now known that this isn’t the case and that the Lamnidae family ancestors of the great white sharks lived at the same time as the megalodon.
If anyone asks you is the megalodon still alive, you can be confident that the answer is no!
The apex predator megalodon became extinct over 3.6 million years ago. Scientists are confident in this because more recent geological layers don’t feature megalodon fossils anymore.
Megalodon fossil remains, particularly the huge teeth, provide a fantastic record of this incredible creature. However, as the planet changed, its continued existence became impossible.
The extinct species of shark had been able to survive thanks to warm seas and the availability of plenty of other large marine animals to eat.
When the oceans cooled and the sea levels fell at the end of the Pliocene era, the megalodon sharks’ time was up.
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Unfortunately, some misguided sources, including reasonably respectable tv channels, have tried to convince people that the megalodon is still alive.
However, there simply isn’t any reliable evidence for this.
After all, if there was a population of 20 meter (66 ft) long, 60,000 kg (131,000 lb) sharks swimming about in the tropical and temperate seas, don’t you think someone would have shared their video on YouTube and Twitter by now?
At best, any rumored sightings might be the giant but completely harmless basking sharks found around the world.
Without the evidence of the modern megalodon tooth, we can be quite certain that these amazing top apex predators disappeared many millions of years ago.