Fun Squalodon Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Nov 29, 2022 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Sep 29, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Interesting Squalodon facts that kids will enjoy.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min


Squalodon was an ancient mammal with the features of a whale. It was endemic to North America. It was a small but important part of the aquatic life off the east coast of North America in the middle Miocene period, several million years ago. The Squalodon lived from the early Oligocene to the middle Miocene era. This animal belonged to the order Artiodactyla and infraorder Cetacea. You could even be lucky enough to discover an isolated bone or tooth while walking along the coastlines below the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland or examining the Oligocene and Miocene exposures in North Carolina and South Carolina. The name Squalodon was derived from the Greek word 'squal', meaning 'shark', and 'odon', which means 'teeth'. The name was given by Remington Kellogg in 1923 after its invention in the Calvert formation of Calvert County Maryland. The main identification characteristics for the Squalodon are its skull and teeth. These characteristics resemble modern-day cetaceans. However, at first, by seeing the skull it was thought that Squalodon was a dinosaur.

The superfamily of Squalodontidae consisted of three distinct groups of medium-sized animals. These are short-snouted shark-toothed whales, medium-sized snouted shark-toothed whales, and long-snouted shark toothed whales. The Squalodon genus belongs to the last group. They were the last surviving whales with a heavy dentition, which means that their teeth were very diverse from the front to the back of the mouth. At first glimpse, Squalodon calvertensis can simply be misidentified, particularly if a complete skull is not found. This is because like all members of Squalodon, Squalodon calvertensis, is a toothed whale. Without a complete skull, the teeth can be mistakenly labeled as belonging to a species (Kellogg, 1923). Fortunately, Kellogg's original discovery included an almost complete specimen. A fossil record and skeletal display have been made available at the Museum of Natural History.

To know more about other extinct animals, you can also visit these Chilantaisaurus and Dolichorhynchops.

Squalodon Interesting Facts

Was the Squalodon a dinosaur?

No, the Squaladon was not a dinosaur. In fact, it was a whale species that belonged to the infraorder Cetacea.

How do you pronounce 'Squalodon'?

Squalodon pronunciation is 'sk-ua-la-dan'.

What type of prehistoric animal was a Squalodon?

Squalodon was a cetacean genus that lived in the Oligocene to Middle Miocene period. It belonged to the family Squalodontidae. The genus was named by Jean-Pierre Sylvestre de Grateloup in 1840. It was first thought to be an iguanodontid dinosaur but later classified as a marine mammal. The name Squaladon was derived from Squalus, a genus constituted of shark. Therefore, its name meaning is 'shark tooth'. The closest modern cousin of this animal is the South Asian river dolphin which has two known subspecies- the Ganges river dolphin and Indus river dolphin.

In which geological period did the Squalodon live?

The Squalodon thrived from Oligocene to the middle Miocene Era, around 28-15 million years ago.

When did the Squalodon become extinct?

The Squalodon was a cetacean species that became extinct in the mid-Miocene period. There were no descendants left of this species. The hypothesis of why this family suffered from extinction must deal with competition from other groups of dolphins and climate change.

Where did a Squalodon live?

The Squalodon was an odontocete whose fossils have been found in various parts of the world, including New Zealand, North America (North Carolina), Australia, and Argentina. These fossils were found in Oligocene and Miocene marine sediments. About two species of Squalodon were found in the coastal deposits of the Atlantic. They were all same in appearance, but there was a difference in the size of these specimens. They also differed in the morphology of teeth. Among all the specimens, Squalodon whitmorei was the biggest species and Squalodon calvertensis was the smallest specimen with a longer snout. There is probably an additional undescribed specimen in the formation of Calvert at the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland, and there may have been other species of Squalodon whales discovered in Italy and France. Some species of Squalodon have been discovered in countries like New Zealand and Australia.

Squalodons, also known as shark-toothed animals,were a primitive group of whales with teeth that lived in the oceans between New Jersey to North Carolina. The species Squalodon whitmorei has been described from from two skulls fossils found in King George County in Virginia. Some parts have been found in North Carolina and Maryland of North America. The holotype specimen (most complete fossil) was also found in the same county.

What was a Squalodon's habitat?

As an initial member of toothed whales, the Squalodon was a core member of the Platanistoidea section of toothed whales, now represented by river dolphins. Before the rise of modern marine dolphins, the Squalodon was initially widely distributed throughout the marine habitat. A person can probably find an isolated Squalodon bone or Squalodon tooth while walking along the seashores below the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland or exploring the Oligocene and Miocene exposures in North Carolina and South Carolina. Squalodons were a tiny but considerable part of the marine life off the east coast of North America in the Early to Middle Miocene era. The specimens of S.whitmorei usually found are about 18 million years old. However, fossils of other species tell us that they survived until approximately 15 million years ago.

Who did a Squalodon live with?

Whether the Squalodon lived alone, in pairs, or groups is still unknown. However, like today's shark, it is assumed that it would have lived in solitary.

How long did a Squalodon live?

The lifespan of a Squalodon has not been identified yet. Although, it is believed that it probably lived about 20-30 years or more just like present-day shark species.

How did they reproduce?

There is not much information related to the reproduction methods of the Squalodon. Squalodons were viviparous animals, meaning they would give birth directly to young ones, like whale species in today's world.

Squalodon Fun Facts

What did a Squalodon look like?

Squalodon whales are odontocetes that thrived in the Oligocene to the middle Miocene. These toothed whales are named after the shark aqualus due to similar types of cheek teeth. These whales are identified by both ancient and modern features. Squalodon teeth are the most apparent ancestral features. At this point in history, other toothed whales were developing conical teeth, while Squalodontidae maintained the primitive dentition formed by their ancestors (ancient cetaceans). Presently, the teeth of live toothed whales have barely changed. The teeth of Squalodons are much more complicated. They are widely spaced, the cheek teeth are serrated and have a triangular shape, making them easy to grip and cut.

Due to the capability of its primitive dentition, Ceratodons could have a diversity of prey. Another genetic feature of Squalodontidae is their necks. Ceratodon's necks are extra flattened compared to their ancient whale ancestors. Related to toothed whales of the time, squalodontids could be more motile. Paleontologists also think that the dorsal fins of squalodonts were smaller but larger than the ancestor's dorsal fins. Shark-toothed whales also have several modern features. Their skulls are well compressed, their podiums are stretched, and their skulls indicate the origin of echolocation.

Only the skull and teeth of a Squalodon have been discovered.

How many bones did a Squalodon have?

The exact number of bones in the Squalodon skeleton is not known yet. Only Squalodon teeth and skull have been found so far among its fossil discovery, and they are displayed at the Museum of Natural History.

How did they communicate?

Squalodons were primitive cetacean animals that probably communicated through echo sounds.

How big was a Squalodon?

The total Squalodon size was around 118.11 in (300 cm), which was around five times larger than the Amazonian manatee.

How fast could a Squalodon move?

The exact swimming speed of Squaladon is unknown. However, like today's whales, Squalodon whales probably would have had aswimming speed of 31 mph (49.88 kph).

How much did a Squalodon weigh?

The weight of the Squalodon atlanticus is unclear as scientists have not been able to find the complete skeleton of this mammal. They were probably bigger and heavier than hourglass dolphins.

What were the male and female names of the species?

Just like the present species of marine whales, the male Squalodon would be known as a bull and cow is the name of a female Squalodon.

What would you call a baby Squalodon?

A baby Squalodon would be called a calf, just like present-day whale babies.

What did they eat?

Because the teeth of odontocetes were the cutting and grabbing type, they would have been able to eat many kinds of prey. However, because their long noses were very small and these animals were not very big, they might not have eaten large prey. Therefore, their diet was the same as that of today's dolphins including small fish, squid, and crustaceans.

How aggressive were they?

By seeing the type of dentition, it is assumed that Squalodons would have been very aggressive mammals.

Did you know...

Squalodons were one of the first cetaceans to develop echolocation.

Squalodons were also the latest cetaceans with complicated dentition, which means that their number of teeth varied according to the position of their jaws.

How are Squalodons related to whales?

Squalodons had teeth just like whales, with sharp and long edges.

Why is it called Squalodon?

The Squalodon got its name from the serrated shark-like teeth. The 'Squal' in the name means 'shark' and 'odon' means 'tooth'. Therefore, this whale is called 'shark tooth' or 'shark-toothed whale'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Plesiopleurodon fun facts and Dunkleosteus facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Squalodon coloring pages.

Main image by Nobu Tamura

Squalodon Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Fish, squid, and crustaceans

what Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

N/A

What Did They Look Like?

Gray, white, and blue

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

Skin Type

Smooth skin

How Long Were They?

118.11 in (300 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Mammalia

Genus

Squalodon

Family

Squalodontidae

Scientific Name

Squalodon grateloupii

What Were Their Main Threats?

Predators and climate change

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Ocean

Where Did They Live?

North America, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina
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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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