Megalodon was a prehistoric shark in the Lamniformes order, which today includes the mackerel sharks (great white sharks, mako sharks, salmon sharks) basking sharks, megamouth sharks, thresher sharks, crocodile sharks, goblin sharks and sand tiger sharks. It also includes many other extinct families of sharks that no longer exist today.
Most depictions of Megalodon portray it as resembling today’s mackerel sharks, only much larger and bulkier. However, we don’t know exactly what Megalodon looked like, because most of a shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage, which doesn’t preserve or fossilize well.
Because of this, most of our information about Megalodon comes from its large teeth. Superficially, these teeth resemble those of the great white shark, only larger. Because of this, it was placed in the same genus (Carcharodon) as the great white for many years, and most depictions based its appearance on the great white.
Today, many scientists still believe the Megalodon probably looked similar to the great white shark, with a robust body and similar fin shape. However, others believe its body may have more closely resembled the whale shark or the basking shark – two living sharks that today are among the largest living fish. Using this description, its tail fin would be more crescent shaped, and some of its other fins would have been smaller.
Either way, it was a very large predatory shark, with large jaws and large teeth.
SIZE: 47-67 feet estimated (14-20.3 meters)
WEIGHT: 27.4-59.4 metric tons (30.2-65.5 short tons)