Story: Sharks and rays

An extinct shark

An extinct shark

The Carcharodon megalodon, now extinct, was the size of a bus, at 13–17 metres long. They cruised the world’s oceans from 25 million until 1.6 million years ago. Their prey probably included early species of whales. Some researchers think that they were the ancestors of great white sharks, which are miniature by comparison. A fossilised Carcharodon megalodon vertebra was found in sea cliffs off Taranaki, and a 12-centimetre tooth was also discovered near there. Shark fossils are rare, as their skeletons are made of cartilage, not bone, and do not survive burial. The model pictured here hangs in the Puke Ariki museum in New Plymouth.

Using this item

Puke Ariki - Taranaki Museum & Library
Photograph by John Crawford

This item must not be copied or reproduced in any print or electronic media without the prior permission of Puke Ariki Museum and Library. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Gerard Hutching, 'Sharks and rays - Natural history of sharks and rays', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 9 August 2022)

Story by Gerard Hutching, published 12 Jun 2006