A trip to the beach can be a lot of fun, especially when you find some shark teeth to take home. You may be wondering how to increase your chances of finding shark teeth on the beach. Or, if you find a tooth, you may wonder what kind of shark it came from or how old it is. Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can find out.
Part 1 of 3: Identifying Shark Teeth on the Beach
Step 1. Look for gear at high tide and shoreline
Head to the beach at low tide and look for rows of debris in the sand. Walk slowly along the tide line while looking for a gear. If the beach is busy, you may have better luck looking right at the part of the waves crashing into the shoreline so you can pick up the gear before anyone else sees it.
Every now and then, dig a little sand along the tide line and/or shoreline and look for teeth along those sections. Although teeth can be found on the surface of the sand, they are often also under the sand
Step 2. Search between the shells and sand to find the shark's teeth
If there are shells in the area where you're looking, it might be a good idea to grab a large pile of shells and sort them out. Take some clam shells and dig a little sand underneath. Place the clam shells and sand on a sieve and shake. Then, pick up the objects one at a time and look to see if there are teeth, shells, or other objects.
While it's possible to find teeth in areas where shells and/or debris are rare, you may have better luck finding them in areas where shells and debris are found
Step 3. Look for a dark triangular shape
While there are slight differences in individual shark teeth, the teeth you will find are likely to be black, or some other dark color. The teeth are also likely to be smaller, between 1.3 cm and 5.1 cm in length, as well as being triangular. Focus on these physical characteristics while observing and searching through the shells.
Step 4. Recognize teeth by their shiny features
Shark teeth and sea shells can sometimes look very similar to each other. If you pick up an object and can't recognize it, hold it up to the sun. If it was a seashell, it would have ripples and a play of color, whereas almost all shark teeth tend to glow in the light.
Part 2 of 3: Identifying Types of Sharks
Step 1. Identify the white shark's teeth by their triangular shape and width
If you get shark teeth that are flat and wide, triangular in shape, it's possible that the teeth you're holding are white shark teeth. There will be rough serrations along the tooth blade and it is about 3.8-6.4 cm long.
Step 2. Identify the tiger shark's teeth from its short tooth blade
The tiger shark's tooth blade measures only as long as the root. Shark teeth of this type can also be recognized by the sharp teeth at the base of the teeth and also how deep the grooves of the tooth blade are usually. Tiger shark teeth are usually about 2.5 cm long, but can sometimes measure 3.8-5.1 cm.
Step 3. Identify the teeth of a bull shark by its pointed teeth
The teeth of the bull shark have a broad, flat blade with a narrow top. These teeth are usually 2.5 cm long or slightly shorter. Although there are serrations along the entire length of the blade, they get smaller the farther down you go.
Step 4. Identify the lemon shark teeth with a slightly angled blade
The lemon shark's teeth have no serrations and the blade is slightly angled to the side. Lemon shark teeth are also flat and narrow. The average length of a lemon shark's teeth is about 1.9 cm.
Step 5. Find the teeth of the sand tiger shark from its narrowed shape
The teeth of the sand tiger shark have very narrow blades without any serrations and are usually about 2.5 cm long. This makes the teeth of these sharks easy to identify. This shark also has very high tooth tips.
Step 6. Identify the megalodon shark teeth by their large shape
The megalodon shark has been extinct for thousands of years, but this shark is remembered for its enormous size. Usually, you can identify this type of tooth by its size as it was much larger than other shark teeth, as megalodon teeth usually ranged in size from 8.9 cm-17.8 cm. You can also identify the finely serrated blade and the thin black line that runs between the blade and the root of the tooth.
Step 7. Identify the teeth of other species of shark by their shape and size
Shark teeth of various species tend to stand out against each other based on these two things. The shape of the teeth is often the most recognizable thing, as most species have slanted blades, shaped tooth tips, or distinct tooth features that identify them as the species. If you think a tooth could come from one of two species, measure its length and see if it fits better with one species or the other.
For example, the great hammerhead denture stands out because it has a unique square root and a consistent top-to-bottom serration of the blade
Part 3 of 3: Confirming the Age of Shark Teeth
Step 1. Identify fossil teeth by their dark color
Shark teeth contain oxygen, which can react with the surrounding minerals to produce color over time. Fossilized shark teeth have undergone at least 10,000 years of oxidation to produce this effect, so are often black, deep red, brown, gray, or some other similar dark color. This effect varies depending on the environment in which the tooth is fossilized, because each sediment contains minerals that produce different colors through oxidation.
- Shark teeth found in areas containing iron oxide, such as some areas in New Jersey, tend to be orange or red in color.
- Shark teeth found in areas high in phosphate, such as Venice Beach, Florida, tend to turn black in color, because phosphate is a solid black mineral.
Step 2. Identify modern teeth by their lighter color
Modern teeth have not been exposed to the minerals in the surrounding sediments for the 10,000 years it takes to cause oxidation. As a result, teeth like this are generally white, and usually look exactly like when they were inside the body of the original shark.
Step 3. Find the species and find out if it is extinct
Try to determine the general age of the teeth by paying attention to their anatomy and finding out what species the tooth belongs to. While many of the shark teeth you may find come from sharks such as the tiger shark and great white shark that still exist today, you can find teeth from extinct species. If you notice that the anatomy of the teeth corresponds to an extinct species of shark, then the teeth are really old.
The megalolamna paradoxodon shark is an example of an extinct shark species for which teeth may be found
Step 4. Recognize teeth found in the interior as aged teeth
While you can certainly find fossilized shark teeth on beaches, fossilized and modern teeth are often found at this location. If you find a tooth in the far inland, then there's a good chance that it's so old that it took a very long time for the gear to move very far from the ocean based on the elements.