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Megalodon

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Scientific Classification
Megalodon

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Chordata

Class

Chondrichthyes

Subclass

Elasmobranchii

Order

Lamniformes

Family

Disputed: Lamnidae or Otodontidae

Genus

Disputed: Carcharodon or Carcharocles

Species

C.megalodon

Carcharodon megalodon (considered alternatively to be Carcharocles megalodon) is a giant shark similar to a Great White shark. Living from 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago, during the Cenozoic Era, this shark is now known only from teeth. Because of this shortage of data, estimates vary regarding its likely size, though it is universaly agreed that Megalodons could reach lengths an excess of 50 ft; potentially as much as 80ft. Megalodon, meaning "big tooth", had teeth at least 7 inches long and had a mouth that could expand to engulf an elephant whole. Despite solid evidence indicating it went extinct in the late Pliocene, some believe that they survive to the present.

Although no solid evidence indicates continued existance, there have purported sightings in modern times. In 1875, two megalodon teeth were brought up during a deep-sea exploration by the HMS Challenger that supposedly were only 10,000 to 14,000 years old. During this time, a land bridge between North America and Asia existed and the ancestors of the Native Americans were crossing over. If tests on the age of the huge teeth were accurate, this means that megalodon was still alive at the end of the Pleistocene, over two million years after it's generally agreed date of extinction.

Another recorded sighting was documented in 1918. Supposedly, a fisherman off the coast of Australia refused to return to the ocean after a massive shark demolished their gear and stole their crayfish pots. When further questioned, they all reported similar things, a ghostly white shark as long as the wharf they were standing on-115 feet. Proponents of the modern persistence of megalodon argue that these people, experienced fishermen, would have recognized a whale had they seen one. The creature frightened the fishermen so much that they refused to work.

Another sighting occurred In the 1960's. The captain of a 26-meter fishing boat reported seeing a huge shark. Like the fisherman in Australia, he and his crew were very experienced, so it is argued that they would've known if it was a whale or not. The crew refused to say what they saw to reporters. However, the captain gave his account a few years later.

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