3 Million-Year-Old Shark Tooth Discovered

History

| LAST UPDATE 05/10/2022

by Stanley Wickens
megalodon shark tooth discovered
Stringer via Getty Images

Six-year-old Sammy Shelton was taking an ordinary walk along the beach, looking for shells to collect, when he stumbled upon something that was quite out of the ordinary. What, at first, seemed like just another shell, or a strangely-shaped black rock, turned out to be an ancient fossil from three million years ago...

The fossil, which turned out to be an ancient shark tooth that measured four inches long, was found on Bawdsey Beach in Suffolk, England. For several years, fossil hunters have often been successful at discovering ancient remains in this region, although the findings are usually hidden in clay. After some investigation, scientists found that the shark tooth found by Sammy Shelton once belonged to a massive shark called a megalodon. And a few facts we've learned about this species over many years of research just might explain the massive size of the prehistoric tooth that's recently been discovered.

megalodon shark teeth discovery
picture alliance / Contributor via Getty Images
Advertisement

The extinct megalodon lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago, and most of what we know about it today has been obtained from the study of fragmentary remains. However, scientists have been able to safely conclude that this predator's fins alone were the size of an adult human being and that the animal could grow to be 67 feet long. The megalodon's name means "big tooth" in Ancient Greek - a description that's certainly fitting for a species with the largest fangs of any type of shark we know of.

Scientists have been attempting to reconstruct the jaw of megalodon for over a century. The first to do this was Bashford Dean, whose research from 1909 is displayed at the American Museum of Natural History. It wasn't until decades later, in 1989, that a nearly complete set of megalodon teeth was excavated in Japan. These discoveries enabled scientists to put together a dental formula for the megalodon in 1996, which revealed its bite force to be twice as powerful as the largest confirmed great white shark. No wonder the megalodon has become a popular subject in works of fiction, especially those involving sea monsters. As for the lone tooth recently found by the young Sammy Shelton, it doesn't seem as dangerous detached from the jaws of its ancient master. If anything, he can't wait to get back to that beach to dig up more of history's unique relics that are waiting to be discovered...

Advertisement