Sharks’ teeth come in all shapes and sizes

I learned something new at the beach.  I learned how to easily find sharks’ teeth.

I have to confess that the first tooth I found literally washed up to my feet as I sat watching the kids play in the ocean. From that one tooth, a bit of an obsession formed.  I looked for small black teeth on the beach from then on.

Why do we find sharks’ teeth on the beach: 

Sharks continually shed their teeth, and some shark species can shed approximately 35,000 teeth in a lifetime. In order for these teeth to fossilize, they must sink the seafloor and be quickly covered by sediment. Rapid burial is important for fossilization for a number of reasons. First, the sediment acts to protect the teeth from the weathering, abrasion, and scavenging that could occur if they were exposed to open water and currents. Secondly, burial also limits exposure to oxygen and bacteria which are responsible for decay. The process of fossilization is a slow one that usually takes thousands of years. Depending on which minerals are present teeth can be found in a wide variety of different colors, ranging from blue/grey to black to orange/red to white to green. Fossilized shark teeth usually have a black root with a grayish crown.  Fossilized shark teeth can often be found in or near river bed banks, sand pits, and beaches. If the tooth was found in a creek 50 miles from the nearest ocean, it is safe to assume that the tooth is a fossil. When you find a shark tooth at the beach, you may need to look at its color to figure out its age.

How to find sharks teeth: 

Walking along the ocean’s water line, as the waves are rolling in and out, I look for a little black “ T ” or “ Y ”among the small broken shells.  The black fossilized teeth really do stand out against the yellowish sand and once you find your first tooth, it’s easier to know just what you are looking for. I did realize after a while, that I couldn’t find any teeth on days when the shells that were rolling in were large. I only found teeth when small broken shells were coming in and out with the tide. I think this has to do with the weight of the teeth, but that’s just my guess.

So next time you’re at the beach or even near a river, keep an eye out for sharks teeth. Happy hunting!

You can find big and small sharks teeth at the beech.


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