A long time ago, maybe 15 million years ago, the seas were patrolled by a shark that would rival any land animal that exists today in sheer size alone. This shark, the Megalodon (Carcharodon megalodon) is known to us by its fossilized teeth, which could exceed 7 inches in length. Through the megalodon (which roughly translates to ‘big tooth’), scientists were able to reconstruct the prehistoric shark, concluding it measured approximately 50 feet long. It’s jaws measured a mind-boggling 10 feet high and 8 feet wide. Although scientific research involving the megalodon’s true size can vary, studies involving the proportion of tooth size to body length of the great white still shows that is was a very large fish, possibly the size of a whale shark.
Though the megalodon’s enormous size makes it seem like the stuff of movies, its likely descendant, the great white shark, is perhaps best known from the movie “Jaws”. Great whites appeared in their current form around 11 million years ago, and both had the telltale triangular, serrated teeth; however, the megalodon’s teeth were thicker and wider and would have been less efficient at cutting into prey. But they are well-preserved as fossils, and usually appear a dark brown or grayish-black. This discoloring is often caused by the specific type of sediment in which they were deposited; sediment that contained dark phosphates contributed to the common fossils’ dark colors. Megalodon teeth have been discovered all over the world, even in the Marianis Trench.
Despite discrepancies in megalodon’s true size and appearance remain, the fact that such a creature actually lived on earth at one time is enough to make their teeth a prized possession for fossil collectors and shark enthusiasts. Megalodon teeth can be found on eBay, and average around a hundred dollars to several thousands for pristine specimens. That the great white shark is as feared and misunderstood as its predecesor only adds to the magnificence and mystery of these solitary hunters.