National Megalodon Day is celebrated on June 15 every year. The megalodon is one of the largest apex predators to have ever existed. It’s no wonder why this mega-toothed shark continues to fascinate and dominate imaginations. This shark ruled the oceans for over 20 million years, its enormous serrated teeth — all 276 of them — ensured a spot at the top of the food chain. What happened to this prehistoric shark? Does it still lurk in the depths of the ocean?
History of National Megalodon Day
The earliest megalodon fossils date back to 20 million years ago. The megalodon was the ruler of the seas until becoming extinct 3.6 million years ago. It was not just the world’s largest shark, but also the world’s largest fish. You might wonder how large it was — well it’s between 49 and 59 feet long, at the very least. For perspective, that’s three times longer than the largest great white shark ever documented.
Now let’s talk about those teeth. Scientists have found fossils with Megalodon teeth that are at least seven inches long. Fun fact — the word ‘megalodon’ actually means ‘large tooth.’ So, it’s safe to say that the pearly whites take precedence in any Megalodon discussion.
A fish this large needed to eat a lot of food. The enormous serrated teeth would have torn through any type of meat. Scientists believe the megalodon ate large prey — from dolphins and other sharks to humpback whales. Their jaws could open big enough to swallow two adult humans side-by-side.
Scientists haven’t discovered an entire Megalodon skeleton yet. While several reconstructions have it looking like a bigger version of the great white shark, this is largely incorrect. For a long time, many people believed the two were related. Current research debunks this theory. The megalodon comes from a different shark lineage, of which it was the last surviving member.
Could the megalodon be living somewhere in the depths of the ocean still? Highly unlikely. We know, for a fact, that the megalodon became extinct when the earth’s temperatures started cooling 2.6 million years ago. We’re not sure exactly when or how, but there are theories. Cooler temperatures may have destroyed their habitat. Perhaps prey went extinct and accelerated the megalodon’s extinction.
National Megalodon Day timeline
The undisputed rulers of the seas survive and thrive.
Megalodon populations stretch across the globe, from the Mediterranean and Caribbean Seas to the Bay of Bengal and Australia.
Megalodons go extinct due to climate change and the loss of habitat and prey.
The Smithsonian installs a 52-foot-long model of a massive female megalodon.
National Megalodon Day FAQs
Is a megalodon a dinosaur or shark?
‘Carcharocles’ megalodon is a member of an extinct megatooth shark species. Scientists believe that sharks are much older than dinosaurs.
What animals make a megalodon?
The megalodon belongs to the lamnoid shark lineage. This group includes the mako, thresher, and the great white sharks.
What was the megalodon's behavior?
Evidence from megalodon bite marks on fossilized whales suggests that they targeted vital organs. They may have also rammed into prey to stun or crush it. The enormous serrated teeth could effortlessly bite through bones.
National Megalodon Day Activities
Visit a museum
It isn’t National Megalodon Day without a trip to the museum. Make a beeline to the nearest fossil museum or plan a trip wherever there is one.
There’s a ton of fascinating megalodon research online. Read up about this fascinating animal today.
Bust some myths
Today's a good day to counter misinformation regarding the megalodon — mainly that the monster shark still lives. Share research and studies. Help replace the myth with scientific fact.
5 Facts About Great White Sharks That Will Blow Your Mind
They live almost everywhere
Great whites live and hunt in every ocean except for Antarctica.
Their torpedo-like bodies can swim up to 35 mph.
A nose for blood
Great whites can smell even the smallest drops of blood from five km away.
Their blood has high concentrations of mercury and arsenic that would kill any other animal.
Not a social animal
Great whites prefer roaming alone and will happily make a meal of smaller sharks.
Why We Love National Megalodon Day
Both fascinating and terrifying
What is it about monsters in the deep that endlessly fascinate? It’s incredible to think the megalodon once swam where we probably sit today.
Megalodon fossils contain keys to significant historical periods. In understanding the megalodon, we also have better insights into our world.
National Megalodon Day inspires many future scientists or paleontologists. We’re sure of it!
National Megalodon Day dates