Biggest Shark â€“ The Megalodon
To date, the biggest shark in recorded history is the Megalodon (also known as the Carcharodon Megalodon). Currently (perhaps thankfully) this species of Megalodon Shark is extinct having died out millions of years ago.
Considered to be a distant relative to the great white shark the C. Megalodon's titanic proportions grossly exceed those of its smaller cousin. Reaching approximately 20.3 meters in length (67 ft.) the biggest shark in history resembled a much bulkier version of the Great White and weighed in at around 103 metric tons!
It should come as no surprise that the biggest shark in history also had the most powerful jaws as well. The biggest sharks mouth contained a bountiful 276 serrated, deeply rooted teeth spread over 5 rows and embedded within jaws there were estimated at over 2 meters (7 ft.) across!
Consistent with all other species of sharks, the biggest shark's skeleton was mostly comprised of cartilage. This resulted in poor preservation of their remains through fossilization. Because of this, very few actual bones (fossils) have been found of the world's biggest shark. What few have been found are made up of mostly teeth, jaws and a few vertebrae.
Scientists estimate the biggest shark's bite force to be equivalent to 182,000 Newton's of force (41,000 pound-force). This was over 10 times that of the great white shark whose bite was approximately 18,000 Newton's, over 5 times greater than the Tyrannosaurus Rex whose bite force was 31,000 Newton's and even greater than that of Predator X whose bite force was 150,000 Newton's.
Based on fossil finds and excavations it's believed the biggest shark in history preyed upon whales, dolphins, porpoises and giant sea turtles. Given its sheer size and bite force one thing is for sure. You did not want to be anywhere near this creature when it was hungry!
When it comes to hunting prey, evidence suggests the biggest shark hunted its prey differently from its smaller cousin the great white. The great white typically rams its prey from below either stunning and/or causing confusion. They then try to bite the more fleshy unprotected parts of their prey to inflict heavy bleeding and fatal injury.
Being the biggest shark with the largest jaws and strongest bite allowed the Megalodon to use different attack mechanics. Instead of ramming its prey, the Megalodon shark would actually target the prey's ribcage in an attempt to rush bones and internal organs. The massive injuries that would result ensured quick death even if the prey temporarily managed to escape.
Given its physiology it's probably safe to assume the biggest sharks â€“ the megalodon's were one of the most powerful and dominant predators in history. Being at the top of the oceanic food chain though, does not preclude a lack of competition. Quite the contrary â€“ evidence shows that the Odontocetes (and a few others) of the time used coordinated hunting behavior that made for a highly competitive environment.
Megalodon sharks primarily inhabited warm water environments which most likely contributed largely to their ultimate extinction. Global and climatic cooling coupled with the closing of the Isthmus of Panama had a profound impact on global oceanic circulation.
These resulting changes decreased the viable living habitat of megalodon sharks and drastically reduced the food supply which the biggest shark in history relied upon. This gave ground for the evolution of large cold tolerating competitors such as the ancestors of the Orca who ultimately won out in the evolutionary competition.
What is known today about the biggest shark in history is compiled from a combination of fossil, extrapolation and comparison. This leaves room for error and the subject open to debate among historians and scientists alike.
We may never know all the facts surrounding this near mythical creature but what we do know for sure is enough to cause nightmares should one still exist today!