It’s the stuff of nightmares, far worse than Jaws ever generated. Just the sight of a Megalodon shark tooth can give you the creeps. But boy, it’s also fascinating to study.
The Aquanutz Scuba Diving Charters Facebook account shared photos this week of an ancient Megalodon tooth a diver found outside Venice, Fla. The giant tooth shows tooth marks that probably were self-inflicted.
The company speculated that “most likely this guy lost the tooth & happened to chomp down on it while it was falling out.”
Megalodons are ancient sharks that make the Great White look like minnows. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. The species lived between 3.6 and 23 million years ago. The teeth are the only pieces of their bodies that still survive today. Megalodon, literally, means big tooth. It’s estimated that for every inch of a tooth represents about 10 feet in length. Scientists believe that these predators were between 34 to 66 feet long. Because there are no skeletal remains, scientists aren’t completely sure, only that the sharks were huge. There are some Megalodon teeth that measure seven inches long.
And the Megalodon had a ton of teeth — 276 of them. These sharks also were able to shed the teeth and grow new ones. The force of their bites were 10 times as strong as a Great White.
If you love to look for shark teeth, go to Venice, which is on the southwest Florida Gulf Coast. It calls itself the “shark tooth capital of the world.” And there’s a good reason for the name. You can walk the beaches and look for small black objects in the sand. Or, bring some diving gear and go out on one of the charters to look for the prehistoric teeth a few miles off shore.
So why is Florida so prolific for shark teeth? Ten million years ago, what is now present-day Florida was underwater. The Megalodon swam there. Other sharks that lurked in the waters included makos, bull, sand, lemon, great whites and the tigers. Each shark can lose thousands of teeth. So imagine the numbers you can you can find along the beaches and buried in the underwater silt.
Newsweek said that Megalodon teeth have even been found among fossilized whalebones.
Facebook followers of Aquanutz Diving posted all sorts of comments about how the Megalodon tooth had its own bitemark. One follower wrote: “The shark with the damage to its tooth had a prey item in its mouth while another shark came along to try and steal it.”
Another had a sillier reason. Call it romantic. “That happens when mommy sharks and Dadddy sharks bump teeth while kissing.”