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Megalodon Body Size vs Tooth Size

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Megalodon Body Size vs Tooth Size

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



Fast Fact: Megalodons did not get as large as many websites and documentaries say they were. A length of around 50 feet would be stretching it for a large Megalodon.


Reconstructed megalodon skeleton at Calvert Marine Musuem
How large did megalodon sharks get? Obviously, we know they had massive teeth, with the largest having over a 7" slant height. 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 at the Calvert Marine Museum. The reconstruction is shown to the right.
Slant Height Measurement of a Megalodon Shark Tooth

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 (Reference is at the bottom of this page) 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 Tooth Size vs Body Size Chart:

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 Shark Facts


Get Your Very Own Megalodon Tooth:

These are Authentic Megalodon teeth sold by Fossil Era , a very reputable fossil dealer (that I personally know) who turned his fossil passion into a business. These Megalodon teeth come in all sizes and prices, from small and inexpensive 2 and 3" teeth to muesum quality 6+" teeth. Each tooth has a detailed descriptions and images that include its collecting location and formation. If you are looking for a megalodon tooth, browse through these selections!



Recommended Book about the Megalodon Shark:

The following book: Megalodon: Hunting the Hunter is an impressive book about megalodons. This informative book is easy to understand, filled with interesting facts and has many high quality images. It's a must for any "Meg" fan!




References:

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.

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.