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What are some Megalodon facts?

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Quick Answer

Megalodon lived 2.6 to 16 million years ago in warm oceans during the Miocene and Pliocene eras, and people have found Megalodon bones on every continent except Antarctica. These ancient animals evolved from Carcharocles Subauriculatus and reached 60 feet in length and 65 tons in weight at maturity. Their diet included whales. Louis Agassiz named Megalodon in 1843.

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Megalodon's body was made of cartilage, which does not fossilize because cartilage disintegrates faster than the fossilization process. Teeth and vertebrae are the most commonly found bones. Renaissance era people believed that Megalodon teeth were petrified dragon and snake tongues until Nicolaus Steno identified the bones as shark teeth in 1667.

Megalodon is the largest carnivore ever to live on Earth. Its physical and behavioral characteristics were similar to the modern-day Great White Shark. Scientists classify the animal into two categories, including Carcharodon megalodon from the family Lamnidae and Carcharocles megalodon from the family Otodontidae.

The cause of Megalodon's extinction is unknown. Some scientists speculate that, because this animal lived in warm waters, cooling ocean temperatures and dropping sea levels caused its extinction. Other scientists believe that its prey migrated to colder waters where Megalodon could not survive. Large raptorial delphinids are the ancestors of modern killer whales, and competition from these animals also could have led to Megalodon's extinction.

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