They say that you learn something new every day. And for us, our latest revelation was that today is National Megalodon Day – an annual celebration of really massive sharks and their history. That sounds better than Christmas, as far as we’re concerned.
With The Meg set for a sequel this summer, we thought this year’s NMD (all days need a snazzy acronym) would be a great opportunity to learn more about the titular beastie away from its new movies on the big screen. We’re eagerly awaiting The Meg 2 release date, and it could be up there with the best movies based on a true story.
After all, not many of the best movies on that list feature sharks that weigh as much as a Boeing 757.
Let’s start with the basics. Megalodon is a certified badass and one of the most powerful predators in the history of ever. It lived as recently as 3.6 million years ago – that’s 60 million years after the dinosaurs kicked the bucket – and is a relative of the great white shark. Fortunately for anyone going for a dip in the ocean off California, the relationship isn’t that close.
The biggest Megalodon specimens could weigh as much as 103 tonnes and were more than 20 meters long – that’s five giraffes standing on each other’s heads or a dozen Tom Cruises.
Given its size, Megalodon had more of a brute-force approach to food than today’s great white shark. Great whites target the underside of their prey, whereas Megalodon is believed to have used its incredible jaw power to split the chest cavity apart and puncture the heart and lungs with serrated teeth. Yikes. Suddenly, we have even more respect for Jason Statham for taking on these guys.
They were even more brutal, apparently, with raptorial sperm whales – prehistoric creatures have such cool names – when they wanted to eat them. In the case of this sort of massive prey, Megalodon would channel Chris Hemsworth’s Thor against Thanos and aim for the head. They had so much crushing power – three times that of the T-Rex – that the sheer force of the bite would often break the whale’s jaw.
Megalodon also had an enormous appetite, with scientists estimating it needed to eat 2,500 pounds of food every day. That’s the equivalent of 4,700 Big Macs. And they were willing to travel for food, with Megalodon fossils showing up pretty much all over the planet. While the biggest adults spent time in deep waters, younger Megalodon would often spend time closer to the shore in shallower regions.
So, had there been any swimmers around three million years ago, they might have come face to face – or leg to teeth – with a juvenile Megalodon. That doesn’t sound too scary until you learn that even a newborn Megalodon was six feet long. We’ll put our snorkels away.
Environmental changes eventually put an end to Megalodon, with the whales it loved to eat fleeing to waters too cold for Megalodon to survive. When you have an appetite as huge as a Megalodon, any dip in the food supply could be disastrous – as indeed it was for one of the greatest and most impressive predators ever to roam the seas.
But could the chaotic events of The Meg actually be based on a true story? Well, there are some conspiracy theorists who would suggest that Megalodon could still be out there somewhere in the unexplored ocean. However, those with actual scientific knowledge are pretty clear that there isn’t a community of megafauna living in the Mariana Trench – as far as we know.
Thankfully, The Meg 2 will allow us to experience the majesty of Megalodon without having to swim in any dodgy waters. After everything we’ve learned about the real creatures behind the movie, we are determined to stay on dry land.
Here, the only thing that can hurt us is the dialogue in Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. As bad as that is, it’s not as bad as having your chest cavity blown apart by a shark the size of a passenger aircraft. Not quite, anyway.
Elsewhere, find out about the other 2023 movies you should be excited about, including the Dune 2 release date, the Oppenheimer release date, and the Barbie movie release date. No massive sharks in that one, as far as we know.