Yes, the Megalodon was a real shark, but no it is not still alive. It went extinct approximately 2.6 million years ago. In the aftermath of the Discovery Channel’s fake Megalodon documentaries people have questioned not only whether the Megalodon is alive but also whether totally made up it’s existence. After all, a 60 foot whale-eating shark with seven inch teeth does sound like something out of a bad horror movie.
How do we know the Megalodon was real?
Giant fossil teeth of this prehistoric mega-shark are relatively common in the fossil record. The Megalodon has a cosmopolitan distribution living in warm, shallow seas world-wide and it’s fossil teeth have been found on every continent except Antarctica. These massive, fossil teeth have been known to reach lengths of over 7 inches, though most adult teeth are in the 4 or 5 inch range. Given how common these teeth are in the fossil record, the Megalodon must have existed in substantial numbers
Owing to the fact that sharks skeleton are made of cartilage that rarely fossilizes, we don’t have any fossil skeletons of the Megalodon. So we must rely on teeth to learn about this amazing shark. By comparing Megalodon teeth to those of modern day sharks, scientists have been able to estimate that the prehistoric shark reached lengths of up to 60 feet. In fact based on weight it was probably the largest known predator, far bigger than T-Rex or the Mosasaurus.
Recent studies of it’s fossil teeth have put the Megalodon’s extinction at approximately 2.6 million years ago. It’s fossil teeth are common in the fossil record from about 15 million years ago up until this date, but none more recent than this date have been found. While it’s extinction is not in debate among scientists, it’s still not totally known why it went extinct. It likely was due to multiple causes but it’s extinction coincides with climate change that caused a cooling and lowering of the oceans, a decline of the large marine mammals that the Megalodon preyed upon and an increased competition for food with Orca whales.