Megalodon Tooth

A common misconception is the rounded side of a shark's tooth is the front. The flat side of a shark tooth is actually the side that faces out of the mouth. 

 

In honor of Shark Week, July's Fossil of the Month is this nearly perfect Megalodon tooth that measures 5 inches on the diagonal. 

Carcharodon (Carcharocles) megalodon is the most famous extinct shark that ruled the oceans just as recently as 10 million years ago. Megalodon was an apex predator that hunted whales, seals and other large fish. It is the largest fish to have ever lived and its fossilized remains can be found off every continent except Antarctica. Although impossible to have a definitive size, it is estimated the Megalodon could reach lengths of over 50 feet with the female of the species possibly being twice the size and mass of the males. 

Because sharks' skeletons are cartilaginous, teeth--and on rare occasions vertebrae--are the only fossils one can find of sharks. Based on the triangular shape and serration of the teeth and by comparing it to modern Great White Sharks, it is assumed the mouth diameter would have been over 7 feet wide--easily fitting a human. The largest and most evenly triangular teeth would be found at the front of the mouth and would get smaller and more curved toward the back. The front teeth would do the grabbing and cutting of prey while the rear, hooked teeth would prevent it from escaping. 

This massive, 5-inch long tooth is a fantastic specimen with almost flawless serration except for a minuscule section on the right side. Because this tooth is almost a symmetrical triangular shape, it can be assumed that it was near the front of the megalodon's mouth.

 

Prehistoric Great White Shark Tooth
Carcharodon (Carcharocles) megalodon
 
Miocene
Aurora, North Carolina