The megatooth shark may have been the most terrifying and ferocious predator of all time—and possibly the biggest. This gigantic beast was a close cousin of today’s great white shark but was far larger: the height of its tail fin alone was equal to the length of a great white. The megatooth terrorized the seas for more than 20 million years, preying on whales, dolphins, and seals. It attacked at speed, seizing victims in its vast jaws and crushing them or shaking them to pieces.
A fully grown megatooth was more than times heavier than the great white, the largest shark alive today.
Megatooth shark (MEG-a-tooth shark)
■ When: 25–1.5 million years ago (Late Paleogene to Early Neogene)
■ Fossil location: Europe, N. America, S. America, Africa, Asia
■ Habitat: Warm oceans
■ Length: 67 ft (20 m)
Only teeth and spine bones of the megatooth shark have been found. By comparing these with modern sharks, scientists estimate the megatooth shark may have weighed as much as 100 tonnes—as much as 30 elephants. Its fossil teeth are common in sites rich in sea mammals such as seals and dolphins, suggesting these were the megatooth’s prey.
Megatooth means “big tooth.” This shark certainly lived up to its name, with more than 250 teeth, each of which grew up to 7 in (17 cm) long. The teeth had sharp, serrated edges like the cutting side of a sa —ideal for slicing through flesh.