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The story of Fossil Shark Teeth
One of the most enduring success stories from evolution is that of the shark. They're older than dinosaurs, 200 million years older, and the story of their continued survival is an epic tale.
From Wobbegong to Great White, the sharks we see today are the end result of hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary adaptation. While sharks are certainly ancient, there's nothing at all primitive about their modern descendants.
Today there are over 400 species of these highly-specialised predators, with sharp teeth, strong jaws, streamlined bodies, and powerful senses. Who isn't afraid of sharks?
But there's something special about finding a shark tooth.
It's not just an exciting relic to add to your collection-- it's a fossil!
Finding Fossil Teeth
I found a shark tooth!
I found a shark tooth when I was 12, as I was idly wandering along the sands of my lovely Port Phillip Bay. There are still plenty more teeth out there!
Most of these teeth have emerged from eroding coastal cliffs where they have been locked away as fossils for many millions of years. Rich fossil deposits are found in a number of coastal locations, like the cliffs at Black Rock within Port Phillip Bay.
The teeth most frequently found are from two of the largest sharks of early seas, the massive Fossil Great White Shark, Carcharodon megaolodon, which may have grown to 12 metres or more, and the somewhat smaller Fossil Mako Isurus hastalis. Teeth of the Great White have been found measuring more than 18 cm in length!
Hunting For Shark Teeth
Photo : A Tooth from the Carcharodon carcharias, Pliocene epoch, from the Huarra Formation, Antofagasta in Chile. Approx 3 million years old.
More fossil hunting areas:
When you find a Shark Tooth
Handle with care
The most exciting way to collect shark teeth is to collect them yourself, in the field.
First find an area that's known for shark teeth and other fossils. Most commonly these are sand pits and beaches.
Walk along the site and keep your eyes peeled for fossils. When you find one, pick it out with a shovel and sieve, or use a common garden fork.
Many sites provide hard, solid teeth. These are typically worn down because of being frequently moved and redeposited in different areas before settling in one location. Some places, though, yield perfect teeth that have hardly been moved during the long ages. Be careful! These teeth are typically fragile, so treat them gently while excavating.
Identifying Shark Teeth
Identifying shark teeth is difficult. This has a lot to do with the teeth being damaged, worn, and from different species but it gets even more difficult because of the so-called "In-Between Teeth". These are teeth that are from a shark species that was evolving into another, different species.
The Big Tooth
The megalodon, meaning "big tooth" was a giant shark that lived in prehistoric times, between about 18 million to 1.5 million years ago and was the top predator of its time.
It's the largest carnivorous fish known to have existed and quite possibly the largest shark to have ever lived - fossil evidence tells us that megalodon fed upon large animals, including the early whales.
This shark lived during the Miocene and Pliocene eras, roughly about 16 to 1.5 million years ago. Its teeth on average range between 1.5 to 6.5 inch in length. But the largest teeth of this shark are more than 7 inch long. These huge teeth indicate that the megalodon could grow up to more than 16 m (52.5 ft) long, growing bigger than the largest fish alive in the world today, the whale shark.
Is the Megalodon still with us?
Megalodon teeth have been discovered that possibly date to more recent times, perhaps only 10,000 years ago and cryptozoologists argue that this shark might still be alive today!
We once thought the coelacanth and the megamouth shark to be extinct. Are there megalodons in the deep waters of the Pacific?
Get your own Great White
This Great White Shark T-shirt has its front almost covered with a massive Great White, looking fierce and appearing to propel itself through the water leaving bubbles in its wake.
$21.60 from Australian Native.