A fight between these two petrifying prehistoric beasts would be nonpareil and gruesome. This would be a slanging match. Who do you think would be the ‘prizeman’, the Meg, the largest shark to ever prowl the oceans, or the Livyatan, the monster whale?.
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Keys To Identification
The megalodon, whose scientific name is Carcharocles megalodon meaning ‘giant tooth’, was the largest shark to ever be recorded. Its tremendous teeth are almost three times bigger than those of a modern great white shark. They may have had the most powerful bite in the animal kingdom. Although only talked about on records, the megalodon is believed to have become extinct millions of years ago. Megalodon paleontologists have used its fossilized bones and teeth to draw major clues about what the creature was like and when it died off.
How big was the Megalodon? Well, if a great white shark renders you petrified, how about a supersized sleek version that is even more thrilling? The National History Museum proves that a full-sized megalodon can grow up to 60 feet long (18 meters) with approximately 276 teeth, arranged in five rows in each jaw. The rows enabled the megalodon to constantly shed worn out teeth and replace them with new sharper ones. According to the University of Alabama, researchers have proved from a well-preserved vertebra, that a newborn megalodon could be 6-10 feet long, the size of a great white shark.
The Livyatan, originally named Leviathan melvillei, was named Leviathan after the biblical sea monster. It was renamed after researchers found out the name ‘Leviathan’ had already been used for a mastodon, an extinct type of elephant. Just like the Megalodon, the Livyatan is an extinct species of sperm whales that lived approximately 12 to 13 million years ago. Their skeletons were much like those of the modern sperm whale hence suggesting they were fully marine and efficient swimmers.
The Livyatan possessed a massive skull and lower jaw. Fully grown Livyatans had a body length of 13.5 to 17.5 meters with a skull that was 3 meters long. Their robust, deeply rooted upper teeth were 14 inches long and 4 to 5 inches wide, with sharp tips, and deep gouges from wearing against each other. They had a short, wide snout compared to the modern sperm whale which lacks upper teeth and has a very long, less robust snout. The Livyatan had a large depression on top of its skull which was presumed to house the ‘spermaceti organ’ and two soft tissue organs that functioned in echolocation.
Hunting And Diet
During its time, the Megalodon hunted in the warm, shallow seas that covered most of the planet. According to Discovery, Megalodons might have gone extinct when these seas dried up. Although, they are believed to have eaten their kind after bite marks with scrapes similar to that of their teeth were seen on their fossils. It is more than evident that they had to cope with competition, hence the need to grow big as fast as they could to maneuver their similar-sized neighbors who chased after the same food sources.
Research has shown that the Megalodon may have preferred meals of whale and seal. Nonetheless, it was a top-of-the-food-chain predator and would feed on any marine mammal, or even other sharks. In the time of kill, they would first attack the flipper and tails of the mammals to prevent them from swimming away. Their perfectly serrated teeth would then rip the flesh.
The Livyatan is said to be the biggest raptorial predator ever known, with the largest tetrapod bite seen on the planet. They are likely to have hunted large prey near the surface. They would feed on 7 to 10meter baleen whales, beaked whales, dolphins, porpoises, sharks, sea turtles, seals, and sea birds. This was after the remains of these animals were excavated at the same site as those of the Livyatan.
The mouth of the Livyatan is approximated to be 6 feet long and 4 feet wide, large enough to fit the entire head of a T-rex or sorry to say, an adult human, leaving no remains. How the Livyatan hunted is still a matter of debate but given their features, they might have used similar techniques to those of the Megalodon.
Mating And Reproduction
Since Megalodons are extinct, it is impossible to know the exact way they mated or gave birth, but they did not lay eggs. Sharks are known to reproduce in two ways: Either the young is connected to its mother by an umbilical cord that delivers nutrients from the mother or the eggs would grow inside the mother but do not receive nutrients directly from the mother. The latter is peculiar, however, both methods result in a live birth.
The Megalodon gave out one offspring at a time, and if it was really hungry, it would eat its own young. Their breeding grounds were discovered in Panama, as well as fossils of baby Megalodons in South California.
The spermaceti organ on the skulls of the Livyatans was originally thought to be the animal’s sperm (hence the name). Many theories have explained that the organ might have been used for echolocation, allowing the animal to stun its prey with sound, or used to woo females during mating. The male whale’s organ is known to be particularly big and so was the Livyatan’s.
Just like the sperm whales, Livyatans are believed to have had a gestation period of 11 to 12 months and would take care of their young for several months. They gave birth to a single calf once every six years or so while females would remain fertile. Like other mammals, they were believed to have two ovaries, a uterus, a vagina, and during pregnancy, a placenta.
Who Is The Top Predator Of The Oceans?
Due to their similar hunting grounds, it is beyond doubt that these two predators might have crossed paths. It is however difficult to rule out one over the other since both beasts were equally gigantic. A pound to pound fight between the Megalodon and the Livyatan seems quite unfathomable yet when the two assume full-on fighting, the nod seems to go on the Megalodon.
With a thicker body and a more powerful bite force, and not to mention the massive jaws, it was likely to be the peak predator. However, toothed whales seldom hunt alone. A group of Livyatans against a Megalodon would, therefore, seal the deal as it’s said ‘the one wolf dies, while the pack survives.’
Unfortunately, no match would ever be recorded as both species went extinct due to changes in prey availability and global cooling which eventually led to their demise.