Megalodon Body Size vs Tooth Size

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Everything you wanted to know about the megalodon shark!

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Megalodon Collecting Location:
PCS Mine, Aurora, NC

Megalodon Collecting Location:
Calvert CLiffs, MD

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The Size of Megalodons
How large was the megalodon that your fossil tooth came from?

Megalodon Fossil Shark Tooth Size vs Megalodon Body Size Chart

megalodon tooth size vs megalodon shark body size

So, you have a megalodon shark tooth and want to know the size of the shark it came from?

How large did megalodon sharks get? Obviously, we know they had massive teeth , with the largest having over a 7" slant height. That would be about the size of a picture on custom tshirts. But what does this tell us about the size of the shark? Since we only have fossil teeth and vertebrae to look at, determining the shark's dimensions has been a problem for some time. The first attempt at a jaw reconstruction took place in the early 1900's by Bashford Dean from the American Museum of Natural History. The reconstructed jaw exceeded 10 feet. Based on this jaw reconstruction, it was believed megalodon could get over 100 feet in length. However, these reconstructions were based on unassociated sets of teeth, as no associated teeth had yet been found. Today, we know megalodon were much smaller than this. More recent research, based on associated partial dentitions, show that a megalodon with 5 - 6" teeth would have had jaws roughly around 6.5 feet wide and 8 feet high. One of these unassociated reconstructed dentitions can be seen online at the Calvert marine museum.

Now that we have a better idea of the size of a megalodon jaw, how big did megalodon actually get? In 1996 Gottfried, et al, published a paper that has a formula to calculate the megalodon length based on a megalodon second upper anterior tooth (A II). The formula is as follows:

Length in meters = [(.96 x A II slant height in cm) - .22]

From this formula, if you have an anterior tooth, you can determine the size of your shark by measuring the slant height (the length from the corner of a root lobe to the tip of the tooth). If you do not have an A II, you will have to "guesstimate" the size of the A II based on the tooth position you have (not very scientific). Now, for you lazy people who know your tooth size, and do not want to convert, I made a quick chart to find the size of the megalodon based on the AII tooth size in metric and english units. The chart is as follows:

megalodon size chart - tooth size vs megalodon body size

Chart showing A II tooth height and corresponding megalodon length
Some of the largest teeth found (7") would have come from sharks nearly 55 feet in length! This is pretty impressive. Remember that a modern Great White can reach a maximum length of around 22 feet. Therefore, a large megalodon would have been almost three times the size of the largest Great White! This is even larger than the largest fish today, the docile Whale Sharks, which can obtain lengths a little over 41 feet.

Most megalodon teeth that wash up on the beaches at the Calvert Cliffs along the Chesapeake bay are between 1.5 to 4 inches, which means the megalodon were around 12 to 30 feet in length. Further south along the Atlantic Coastal plain, the teeth found are a little larger, which means some some beasts in the 50 foot range were swimming around.

For much more information about megalodon sharks, please go to the Megalodon Shark Gallery

megalodon fossil shark teeth - different sizes
Picure of some megalodon fossil shark teeth found over the years. Based on the above chart, the megalodon sharks these teeth come from would have ranged in size from 15 feet to 50 feet.

Gottfried, Michael D., Compagno, Leonard J. V., and Bowman, S. Curtis. (1996). Chapter 7. Size and skeletal anatomy of the Giant Megatooth shark Carcharodon megalodon. pp. 55-66. IN: Klimley, A. Peter, and Ainley, David G. (editors). In: Great White Sharks the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias Academic Press. San Diego, CA. 517 pp.

The Megalodon Tooth featured in this article is a 4 7/8" (124mm) lower megalodon tooth from the Aurora, NC Fossil Site.