About Fossil Shark Teeth

There is now a brand new article that deals with the evolution of the modern Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) and what impact this incredible species has had on shark history. There is also another article dealing with the fossil Carcharocles megalodon sharks that was written for a 1998 issue of Prehistoric Times®. This is a bit more detailed than the previous article which appeared in the September 1997 (Volume 3, Number 9) issue of Fossil News - Journal of Amateur Paleontology® entitled "Megalodon". Just use the links to view them and enjoy!

General Fossil Shark Tooth Information

Since shark skeletons are composed of cartilage instead of bone, often the only parts of the shark to survive as fossils are teeth. Fossil shark teeth date back hundreds of millions of years. The most common, however, are from the Cenozoic Era (65 million years ago to present).

How a Tooth Becomes A Fossil

A tooth become a fossil when it is buried in sediment (or other material) soon after being lost from a shark's mouth. The sediment precludes oxygen and harmful bacteria from reaching the tooth and destroying it. The general fossilization process varies greatly depending on the exact situation. In general it takes approximately 10,000 years for a tooth to become a true fossil.

Why Fossil Teeth Are Different Colors

The color of a tooth is determined solely by the color of sediment in which it is buried while fossilizing. The tooth absorbs minerals from the surrounding sediment. As the minerals replace the natural structure of the tooth, the tooth becomes the same general color as the sediment. Therefore, color is not an effective indicator of the age of a tooth. The most common color for shark teeth is a black root with a grayish crown. Different colors are more uncommon and significantly increase the value of a tooth.

Shark Teeth in our Catalog and History of the megalodon

Where the Teeth are Found and How Old They Are

The majority of the teeth we offer for sale in this catalog are from the Miocene-Pliocene Epochs (approximately 24.5 million to 2 million years ago). During this time period oceans sporadically covered many parts of what is now the Southeastern United States. For this reason many of the megalodon teeth we have to offer come from either South Carolina/Georgia rivers (which cut through the fossil-rich Hawthorne Formation), South Florida phosphate mining operations (which unearth fossils from the Bone Valley Formation), or from the fossil ledges found offshore of Wilmington, NC. Most of the teeth from these locations are between 3 and 10 million years old.

History of the Carcharocles megalodon Shark

We specialize in teeth from the Carcharocles megalodon shark which thrived during the above time period. This shark was the largest shark to ever swim the ocean. Reaching an overall maximum length of approximately 60 feet, this shark was three times the size of the modern Great White (Carcharodon carcharias) shark.

Carcharocles megalodon Teeth and What Makes Them So Valuable

The teeth from the megalodon shark are truly massive in both length and width. The largest teeth are as large as a man's hand and can weigh well over a pound. The largest complete megalodon tooth ever found measures just over 7" in slant height (measure of the longest side from tip of tooth to the top of the root). Teeth this size, however, are extremely rare. There are only a few teeth in the world that measure over 7" legitimately (however there have been lots of "stretched fakes" so be careful what you buy!!). Smaller teeth are much more common with the average size being about 3 1/2" - 4 1/2" in slant height. Teeth over 5" are more uncommon and over 6" can be quite rare, so the value of teeth this size is significantly greater than the smaller ones.

Another factor that greatly increases the value of a tooth is the degree of preservation. The vast majority of teeth that have become fossils have been destroyed by natural processes (erosion, chemical processes, etc.). Most megalodon teeth found have undergone quite a bit of destruction, with chunks of the tooth broken off, the enamel eaten through, or significant erosion wearing the natural features of the tooth. Occasionally, one comes across a perfectly preserved tooth still bearing its original features and sheen. While uncommon, teeth like this are found and are of significant value. We try to concentrate on these more perfect teeth, although we do have teeth for sale with minor erosion (worn serrations, etc.) for those who just want to own a nice piece of history at a significantly lower price. We carry teeth of all grades in our inventory but typically only show the higher quality teeth individually in the catalogs and throughout the pages on this Site. Other teeth are available for bulk purchase at a wholesale rate.

- Steve