Megalodon: Monster Shark
Welcome to Weird Wednesday! Today we’re going to sea in search of a monster.
Megalodon, one of the largest sharks that ever existed, ruled the seas between 23 to 3.6 million years ago. It’s known primarily by its many fossilized teeth (I own a few myself). A lot of people visualize Megalodon as a giant great white, but it may have looked quite different, and today it’s put into the Otodontidae family, rather than Carcharodon, the white shark line.
So this was a big shark. It ate whales. How big, exactly, is a matter of debate. Maximum size estimates range from 14.2–20.3 meters (47–67 ft). By contrast, Deep Blue, one of the largest known great whites, is 6.1 m (20 ft) long. (It should be noted that the Meg in the movie is 75 feet long. But a secret about writing is that when you are a writer, you can make up whatever stuff you want.)
Of course, the major question we all have at this point is: could Megalodon still exist in today’s oceans? Despite occasional possible sitings, the scientific answer is that it’s unlikely. There’s never been an unfossilized tooth found anywhere, no bodies, and there’s no space in the food chain for an unknown mega predator.
But the ocean is vast, and so is our imagination! So here are some monstrous writing prompts:
- Megalodon lives! Why not say they never went extinct? There’s lots of space in the ocean, and to be fair, we probably have no idea what’s down there. If you want to stay scientific, you’ll need an explanation for why we don’t have evidence of living megalodons (this is the route the 2018 movie went). But you could also just whip up a monster shark and use the handy excuse because I’m the author and I said so.
- Ghosts: If you can have ghost ships sailing around— The Flying Dutchman or any historical wreck— then why not ghost sharks? Sidebar: there are three generally recognized types of hauntings, two of which might be relevant here: the first is a residual haunting— think DVD of the dead— spirits that have no intellectual presence, but simply appear over and over, like a recording. Often, they reenact their last movements and death. So there might be a massive, millions-of-years-old whale-megalodon battle playing out at the surface of the water. (Perhaps, like the Dutchman, seeing this ghostly struggle could be a bad omen.) The other kind of haunting that might apply here is intelligent: this is where you would get a ghost who likes to push people down the stairs, or a long-dead megalodon who’d still very much like to eat you and your boat. (In case anyone is wondering, the third type of haunting is a poltergeist.)
- Jurassic Shark! That’s right, maybe some rich guy and his greedy company cloned a meg. Because cloning monsters always goes so well. And once you’ve got your shark, what then? Want to keep it in captivity and sell tickets? Train it to aid the military? Farm it for food? Strife finds a way…
- Time travel. This would be a cool way to show megalodons at the height of their reign— and all the other creatures who lived in the ocean of the time, like early whales, seals, and other fish. People might visit the past on purpose to learn more about megalodons, or they might go there accidentally, which would probably be quite distressing, considering they would be the only humans in the genus homo in existence at the time.
- Aliens. Maybe millions of years ago, aliens noticed megalodons were going extinct, so they abducted a few. It took a while, but they finally managed to captive breed them, and now they’re back to release them into the wild— in 2022!
- Aliens AND time travel. Perhaps aliens went back in time to abduct a megalodon, and now that they’re done studying it, they’re going to return it like the nice responsible beings that they are. But they miscalculate the timeline a bit and drop their meg in the modern San Francisco Bay. Oops.
Thanks for spending your Weird Wednesday shark-spotting with us. Remember, swim at your own risk!