Facts About Megalodon:
Credit: Herschel Hoffmeyer/Shutterstock. The Long-Gone Shark. The megalodon, which went extinct millions of years ago, was the largest shark ever documented and one of the largest fish on record. The scientific name, Carcharocles megalodon, means "giant tooth." And for good reason: Its massive teeth give scientists major clues about what the creature was like and when it died off.
When the megalodon went extinct. While a 2018 popular movie, "The Meg," pits modern humans against the beast, more than likely, the megalodon died out before humans evolved. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date that the megalodon went extinct, because the fossil record is incomplete.
In 2014, a research group at the University of Zurich studied megalodon fossils using a technique called optimal linear estimation, to determine their age. Their research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that most of the fossils date back to the middle Miocene epoch to the Pliocene epoch (15.9 million to 2.6 million years ago).
All signs of the creature's existence ended 2.6 million years ago in the current fossil record, the authors wrote. For comparison, our earliest Homo sapiens ancestors emerged only 2.5 million years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch, according to the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
A very small portion of the Zurich study's data — 6 out of 10,000 simulations — showed a 1 percent chance that these giant sharks could still be alive. That chance seems pretty slim, and the researchers wrote in the study that they rejected "popular claims of present-day survival of C. megalodon."
Since there has been no evidence of the monster, including fossils that are any newer than 2.6 million years ago, the majority of scientists believe that megalodons are extinct.
The megalodon was a gigantic creature, but maybe not as big as you think. There are a lot of arguments in the scientific community about the animal's actual size. Going solely by the size of the teeth, some believe that the fish could grow up to 60 feet long (18 meters), according to the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London, while others think that about 80 feet (25 m) long is more likely, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
Still others think it was much smaller. For comparison, modern great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) reach lengths of 20 feet (6 m), according to Animal Diversity Web. Even larger is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which reaches 32 feet (9.7 m).
The longest bony fish alive (sharks do not have bones; their skeletons are made of cartilage) is the giant oarfish (Regalecus glesne), which has been known to reach up to 36 feet (11 m), according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. [Related: Oarfish: Photos of World's Longest Bony Fish]https://www.livescience.com/63361-megalodon-facts.html