A 40-foot shark in North Carolina waters? Watch out! Actually, you don't have to worry about Carcarodon megalodon shark when you go swimming. It inhabited the sea covering the eastern part of North Carolina during the Miocene and Pliocene epochs, 23.8 to 2 million years ago. It became extinct during the latter part of the Pliocene epoch.
Fossilized shark remains, including teeth, vertebrae and even pieces of cartilage, can be found in most marine deposits. North Carolina is well known for its abundance of fossilized shark teeth, some nearly seven inches long! The megalodon shark, also known as the megatooth shark, probably was an ancestor to the modern great white shark.
Carcarodon megalodon could open its jaws six feet wide and seven feet high, easily expansive enough for its huge prey: whales. Like most modern sharks, its teeth were arranged in rows that gradually rotated to the front. An associated set of 25 megalodon teeth is on display in the Museum's Natural Treasures gallery.
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photo: Karen Swain