We understand! Not only are fossils beautiful, but each tells a story. For millions of years they have been buried in sediment. Large storms, construction, and mining expose deposits and reveal pieces of the past that we weren't around to observe. Whether you're looking to learn more about how old our fossils are, where they were found, our other products, or how our business got started; you've come to the right place.
These beasts are no myth- Carcharodon megalodon was a giant shark that lived during the Miocene Period approximately 3-23 million years ago. Scientists estimate Megalodon could have reached sizes of over 60' in length. Modern Carcharodon carcharias, more commonly known as the Great White Shark, can reach up to 20' in length upon maturity. School buses in the United States are 45' in length, meaning Megalodon was 3 times larger than White Sharks, and even bigger than a modern school bus!
What's in a name?
There is a current debate about the scientific name of the Megalodon Shark. Some argue for Carcharodon megalodon, relating it more closely to the modern Great White, siting similarities in in number of serrations, structure of the teeth, and the way the teeth develop spatially in the cartilage of the jaw. Others say the name should be Carcharcoles megalodon, meaning that its ancestors evolved from a separate lineage through the Otodus sharks, making comparisons between the serration size, root depth, and even internal pores left behind by nerves and blood vessels.
The majority of our teeth have been found offshore of North Carolina by Weston Collections' own team of certified divers. All other teeth that we have acquired have been tested and found to be authentic using non-invasive testing techniques to maintain the integrity of the tooth and avoid damage.
Fossilized teeth are graded on a 1-10 scale based on the average quality of four factors: Root, Bourlette, Enamel, and Serrations. All of our museum quality teeth are grade 8 and above. This means that the teeth considered museum quality may not all be perfect in every single way, but all are gorgeously preserved fossils that are truly the cream of the crop.
Depending on the position of the tooth in the jaw, one Megalodon shark will have made several different shapes and sizes of teeth. Teeth from the upper jaw will typically have the broader triangle shape , while teeth from the lower jaw will have a narrower 'dagger' shaped blade. The further back in the jaw the teeth go, the more they curve back towards the shark's throat and the shorter the blade gets. The teeth farthest back in the mouth, known as posterior teeth, can even be wider than they are long, and are the rarest positions to find since they were the least likely to fall out.
Smallest to Largest
Megalodon fossils under one inch are the smallest that can be found. Most are posterior teeth, and likely came from juvenile sharks- even the babies were over 6' at birth! A tooth this size is a must-have for any serious collector. At the other end of the spectrum, six inch teeth come from the biggest of the big. Scientists estimate Megalodon reached lengths of 60' or more, and 6.00" is the magic number in the Megalodon fossil world. There are only a few hundred 6" teeth that have been found throughout the world. To put it in perspective, with over 7 billion people on the planet, owners of 6"+ Megalodon teeth are .0000001% of the global population.
The color of the tooth depends on the sediment and groundwater it was sitting in while undergoing the fossilization process, among other chemical and biological factors. For example, a tooth with a red or orange tint to it was likely sitting in iron oxide heavy sediments, which is also the component of rust that gives it it's characteristic color. Sediments rich in phosphate will cause darker colored teeth, though there are exceptions: teeth from Aurora, NC are rich in phosphate but are also fossilized in limestone and other minerals that have a lighter color. On top of that, they are often found in freshwater creeks,which can have different effects depending on the water itself: either the more colorful minerals can be leeched out, lightening the fossil; or minerals and tannins can add to the tooth's coloration. This can leave an Aurora tooth with a variety of light and dark colors that can cause a stark contrast between root, bourlette, and enamel. Teeth from certain locations can be easily identified due to the unique coloration caused by local geological formations in which the teeth were fossilized. Even beyond all of the above, the sun can affect tooth color by bleaching the fossil if it is exposed to sunlight for long enough. Red teeth are among the rarest, along with teeth with multiple colors or interesting patterns caused by any number of factors. Check out our Rare Teeth and Rare Locations section to see the differences for yourself!
Many teeth that are imported from other countries (such as Morocco) have had small repairs done in the field during recovery of the fossil. In fossil terms, repairs refers to taking broken pieces of a fossil and putting them back together using an adhesive to form the entire fossil as it would have been before breaking. In the photo above, the two teeth on the left have been repaired, with the more obvious repairs being on the middle left tooth. The pictures on the right show two before and after shots of restoration work on a single tooth. Restoration involves replacing missing pieces of a fossil to make it whole again, and can be done using a large number of methods. All restored teeth on display on our website have been done by a professional restoration artist.
Otodus obliquus is the first species believed to have evolved separately from the Cretolamna sharks in the middle of the Paleocene epoch approximately 60 million years ago. This was the first species in the direct evolutionary lineage leading to the infamous megalodon (the members of this lineage collectively being referred to as the mega-toothed sharks). They lived until the Eocene epoch, going extinct around 40 million years ago. Their teeth are characterized by large cusps, triangular shape, no serrations, and a small bourlette between the root and enamel. Although we can't be certain, it is believed these sharks could have grown to be 30 feet long.
Carcharocles auriculatus, often known simply as auriculatus or just 'Ricks' for short, evolved soon after Otodus went extinct (with a short lived relative in between them, Carcharocles aksuaticus). They weren't extant for very long, spanning the late Eocene into the early Oligocene epochs, from about 38 to 25 million years ago. Their teeth have a similar shape to Otodus, with pronounced cusps and a small bourlette, yet this species is where the serrations are seen to cover the entire blade for the first time in the mega-toothed sharks.
Carcharocles angustidens evolved from auriculatus nearly 33 million years ago, and was similarly short lived, going extinct 22 million years ago. At this point in the evolutionary line, we begin to see the shape of the tooth change more drastically. The cusps begin to become less pronounced and the blade of the tooth begins to widen. Serrations also become more developed, and this shark is thought to have grown slightly larger than its two aforementioned ancestors by a couple of feet.
Carcharocles chubutensis is the next in the mega-toothed shark lineage, and the last one before the megalodon came to be. The shape of teeth from this species is much closer to that of the megalodon, with an even wider blade and much smaller cusps that can blend in with the serrations to the point of being hard to discern in some specimens. The bourlette between the root and enamel is also more developed than what is seen in the previous species, nearly as prominent as it is on megalodon fossils. Size also continues to increase, with chubutensis having reached sizes of 40+ feet. They lived approximately as long as megalodons, from 28 to 5 million years ago, during the Oligocene, Miocene, and Pliocene epochs.
While Carcharodon carcharias is still an extant species, it has been around since the late Miocene epoch (6-8 million years ago) and accordingly many fossilized teeth from this species can be found if you know where to look. It was originally thought to be a close relative of the megalodon due to the number of serrations and the way the teeth of the two species develop in the jaw, but recently some researchers have put forth the theory that they evolved separately from the Carcharocles line, branching off of a common ancestor to modern mako sharks.
Carcharodon hastalis was once thought to be an extinct species of mako sharks (then known as Isurus hastalis), but it has since been found that this species evolved in between great whites and the common ancestor they share with makos. That means they are more closely related to white sharks than makos, and have since been assigned the common name Narrow White Shark. They lived from about 20 million years ago until they went extinct 3 million years ago.
Parotodus benedini is an extinct species of mackerel shark, also known as the false-toothed mako. These sharks lived from around 15 million years ago to 750 thousand years ago, and are much harder to find than any of the other species that we feature on our site. It is believed this is due to them hunting in open oceans, and mostly staying away from shallow coasts where we would easily be able to find their fossils. Their rarity make them a highly sought after addition to any fossil collection- get yours before they sell out!
Hemipristis serra is a species of snaggletooth shark that lived during the Miocene epoch, going extinct sometime in the Pliocene epoch (about 5.3-2.5 million years ago). They are well known for and get their name from the irregular and jagged serrations on either side of the tooth. There is one species of Hemipristis that still lives in the Indian Ocean, though they are much smaller than the extinct snaggletooth shark.
All whale teeth we feature are from any one of 14 different genera of sperm whales, though that is as specific as we can be. Tooth size and shape varies greatly within a single individual, and doesn't vary much wider than that between different species. Though there are only three species of sperm whales remaining today, the sperm whale family has been around for over 23 million years.
Our clam fossils can come from any variety of species of bivalves, and are what is known as trace fossils. Trace fossils are not fossilized pieces of the actual organism, but are a footprint, burrow, or some other 'trace' of the organism that was left behind. In this case, the fossils are sediment that filled the shells and cemented together before the shell was dissolved away, so that the remaining fossil is the space inside of the clam's shell.
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