Sharks: Prehistoric Sharks Interesting Info and Pictures

Shark Week Addiction

Is anyone else a total geek for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel? Shark Week is playing right now on the Discovery Channel and usually airs once a year towards the end of June/beginning of August. Well, I definitely am a shark week geek, and so it got me to thinkin'...what were sharks like in prehistoric times? Were they bigger? More aggressive? Did they look totally different or were they exactly the same? I did some research and found some very interesting facts and pictures about prehistoric sharks that my fellow shark nerds might find extremely captivating.

Stethacanthus
Stethacanthus | Source

The First Sharks in History

The very first sharks date back to 400 million years ago and include the Cladoselache, Stethacanthus, Orthacanthus, and Xenacanthus species. The most intriguing of these four types of sharks has to be the Stethacanthus. What makes this prehistoric shark so bewildering is the fact that the Stethacanthus is said to have had a platform-type dorsal fin, instead of the normal pointed dorsal fin that we are so used to seeing on sharks in modern times. The illustration to the right gives us a pretty good idea as to what the platform-adorned Stethacanthus shark would have looked like, millions of years ago. It is speculated by scientists that the platform-shaped dorsal fin of the Stethacanthus might have been a part of their scare tactics towards other predators or maybe a way to attract mates. Whatever the actual purpose of this strange fin, the shark looks like a type of submarine to me! He is the most fascinating and strangest of the first prehistoric sharks.

Reconstructed jaws of a Megalodon (notice the size of the man on the right compared to the jaws)
Reconstructed jaws of a Megalodon (notice the size of the man on the right compared to the jaws) | Source
Scale to show you the size comparisons. Great White is in green, Whale Shark is in Violet, and red and gray are Megalodons!
Scale to show you the size comparisons. Great White is in green, Whale Shark is in Violet, and red and gray are Megalodons! | Source

Megalodon - The Monster Shark

The Megalodon is probably the scariest shark in the history of this planet, not to mention one of the most aggressive. So...attack stories and pictures of the Great White jumping out of the water freak you out a bit? Think about this - an adult Great White grows to a maximum length of 25 feet, but can you guess how long the Megalodon could grow to be? The Megalodon, or the monster of the sea, is speculated to have the ability to have grown to a total length of 98 feet and a weight of at least 70 short tons! That's almost 75 feet larger than the size of the largest Great White Shark, which also means a larger-sized appetite.

Take a look at the size comparison below and to the right. The green shark is the size of an adult Great White, the violet is the size of a Whale Shark (right now the largest shark on Earth), and the red and gray sharks are the sizes of a Megalodon. Can you also see the human standing to the left of these sharks? Unbelievable! The Megalodon was to open his jaws and could swallow at least three adults whole.

What did this monstrous shark prey upon? Research and theories indicate that the megalodon's bite was so destructive that they most likely preyed on whales and probably dolphins, as well. I'm pretty much assuming whatever they could get their mouth around, they would eat. The force in the bite of the Megalodon is said to be the most powerful bite in history. If we are scared of the bite of the Great White these days, we couldn't begin to imagine the bite of a Megalodon and I guarantee we wouldn't have a chance of surviving.

Ptychodus - The Less Aggressive Mollusk Eater

One prehistoric shark that is great in size but less aggressive and terrifying is the Ptychodus. The Ptychodus is said to have actually preyed upon mollusks, instead of the typical whale, dolphin, or fish meat that was and is typical for most large sharks on Earth. Fossilized teeth of the Ptychodus have been found in North America, specifially in Kansas and they are said to have lived in the Cretaceous period. In order to eat their source of food, the Ptychodus would use their flat molar-like teeth to crush the shells of the Mollusks and eat the contents inside. Though a large shark, the Ptychodus was one that would have been obviously less feared by other sharks and sea creatures than the Megalodon.

Squalicorax - Scavenger of the Sea

The Squalicorax had an intriguing and unique method of finding food for a species of shark. Consumption of leftovers, scraps of dinosaurs and other sea creatures are what the squalicorax would eat. However, this is just a theory to some and these theories take it so far as to nickname the Squalicorax the "Crow Shark". Many scientists and scholars disagree with this nickname, though and claim that the Squalicorax most likely consumed fish and very rarely scavenged for their meals. The Squalicorax was very close to the size of the modern day Tiger Shark and probably had an appetite and mannerisms to match the Tiger Shark.

Wrapping Up...

So does the Great White still scare you? I would be more frightened to find out that the Megalodon still exists, and who is to say that it doesn't? The ocean is the last frontier on earth and we have yet to find out all of the mysterious dynamics and potential giant sea creatures that dwell within the oceans' depths. I would do yourself a favor and don't go swimming off of a boat in the middle of the ocean...ever. Watch shark week and you'll see what I mean. Whether prehistoric sharks or just your average run-of-the-mill Bull Shark, these species of sea animals are not friendly and only drive to find their next source of energy...meat.

Written and copyright © KittytheDreamer (May Canfield) 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 12 comments

ed snyder 3 years ago

Its actually been said we have explored more of space than we have of our own oceans because of their own bone crushing depths so I'd bet the farm that shark still exists.


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kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

Thanks, TotalHealth! :)


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TotalHealth 4 years ago from Hermosa Beach, CA

I'm completely in awe of sharks. They are amazing creatures. Thanks, I enjoyed your hub!


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kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether Author

Hady - I agree with you, that's why I don't go much further than knee deep! LOL. The ocean is a wonderful and mysterious place, and I most definitely have respect for it, but I don't have the guts to go out swimming too far or even surfing, as you do. You're braver than I my friend! Thanks for reading. :)


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Hady Chahine 4 years ago from Manhattan Beach

As an avid surfer for many years, I developed a love and respect for the ocean. In particular, I am completely fascinated with the great white shark. Truly an amazing creature! But I am also thankful that I never crossed paths with any while sitting in the lineup (that I saw anyway). Recently the media has reported several attacks, most of which have taken place off the coasts of South Africa, Hawaii and Australia. I’ve even read articles about the possibility of culling, which I find disheartening. In my opinion, if a person enters into the ocean they accept full responsibility for any possible repercussions. Thanks for sharing!!


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

Husky - Yes, they certainly fascinate me too, and scare me at the same time! But, that is similar to many of my other interests, including ghosts. :) Great Whites are especially frightening. They are huge animals. I'm not even sure I've heard of "thresher sharks" but that sounds like a great feat to accomplish! Thanks for voting and commenting, as always. :)

wheelinallover - I agree with that statement. To a shark, people equal food. Many scientists disagree with that, however, I think a shark's only thoughts consist of "hungry hungry hungry" and mating. If they're hungry enough, I don't believe they'll discriminate between species...it's whatever is available to them at the time. Obviously if a seal is closer, they'll take a seal over a human. That is very honorable the way you've hunted, very honorable indeed. More hunters need to have that policy. Kill and take only what you can use, no more. Thanks for commenting, as always. I like hearin' from ya. :)


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wheelinallover 5 years ago from Central United States

To a shark, people equal food. To many people I know including me shark equals food. Which will ultimately win. I hope neither. There isn't much chance of them hunting humans to extinction so why don't humans at least let enough live so there will be a "crop" for next year. About every time in the past this has been tried the population of at least that animal has time to recuperate.

As far as the Megalodon no way I would want to meet one of them in person. If I survived the meat would go to waste. I may have a big appetite but not that big. I remember more than once not taking an animals life because part of it would be wasted. The way I was raised included the fact that all animal life is precious don't take more than you can use.


Husky1970 5 years ago

I am fascinated with sharks. This hub is right up my alley. Great information and extremely interesting. There have been many Great White sightings off the coast of Cape Cod this summer. Martha's Vineyard had the annual Monster Shark Tournament two weekends ago. The largest shark caught broke a state record for Thresher Sharks at 660 pounds. Voted this hub up and interesting.


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

There's a similar issue in Mexico, actually. They catch sharks and use them in fish tacos, etc. While I've eaten blackfin and it was actually pretty good, I do hope that the mass killing of sharks doesn't continue. Thanks, Peter. :)


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PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

Unfortunately the Chinese love of "Shark Fin" soup is leading to an extiction of some shark species, They are amazing animals and I hope we don't destroy one of the oldest living species. Thanks for the info,

Peter


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kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether Author

writer20 - Yes, some of them seem to be "playing"; however, I think they're scoping out their next meal! Great whites are incredibly terrifying, as they even launch themselves vertically out of the water in order to capture their prey! There are videos out there of Great Whites jumping out of the water in the waters off the coast of South Africa and also in Australian waters. These creatures are truly fascinating, though. Thanks for commenting! :)


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writer20 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

We watched a researched on PBS whose whole interest is in sharks. When one comes by his boat for the chum he watchs intently for a mild mannner one if this happens OMG he jumps a kinda plays with them, Yieks.

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