A curious eight-year-old’s beach vacation became the trip of a lifetime after he discovered a fossilized shark tooth from a long-extinct species.
Young Riley Gracely traveled to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his father, Justin Gracely, his mother and his brother, Collin. During the trip, the family stopped by an educational fossil-hunting expedition facility in Summerville, South Carolina, known as Palmetto Fossil Excursions.
According to Riley’s father, he “was walking around the bases of these piles of gravel and dirt and noticed what he thought was the edge of a tooth. When he pulled it out, he was so excited.”
As it turns out, he had uncovered a 4.75-inch angustidens tooth in the company’s “premium” gravel layer. “We are so proud of Riley,” added Justin Gracely. The dad said the employees at Palmetto Fossil Excursions explained the find’s significance, which stood out because of its “species, size and condition.”
According to Mindat.org, a nonprofit mineral database and mineralogical reference website angustidens were a prehistoric megatoothed shark that lived about 33 million to 22 million years ago.
Experts believe angustidens were similar to megalodons. They were an extinct prehistoric shark that’s said to be the largest shark species ever to live. Megalodons reportedly lived approximately 23 million to 3.6 million years ago during the early Miocene and Pliocene epochs.
Researchers also believe that megalodons measured up to nearly 70 feet in length. However, angustidens are believed to reach up to 30.5 feet, according to Prehistoric-Wildlife.com.
“CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! This young man just scored a 4.75″ Angustiden tooth in our Premium Gravel Layer piles on a dry dig!!!” wrote the Palmetto Fossil Excursions group in a Facebook post.
Future paleontologist discovers rare shark tooth, internet goes wild
“Just to give perspective — any [angustidens] over 4″ is the equivalent of finding a 6″ [megalodon], and an [angustidens] at 4.75″ is the equivalent of finding a 6.5″ megalodon tooth,” the group added.
“Again, congratulations, kiddo! Truly the find of a lifetime!!!” Reacting to the post about Riley’s find, one commenter wrote on Facebook, “So precious! He has the love for fossils already!” Another person chimed in: “Meet a future paleontologist! Good job, young man!”
Riley’s dad also said his son is an avid fisherman who loves spending his time studying science and being outside.
“His collection is still in its early stages, so he’s keeping it for now, but who knows in time,” his dad wrote. “It would be nice for others to enjoy it, too.”
In their spare time, the family enjoys fossil hunting and often goes on creek excursions and dry digs. “This was our third straight year of excursions with this outfit, and they have been the best,” Justin Gracely wrote. “I wish they had these excursions when I was younger because it is a blast.”