How are teeth measured?
When viewing teeth on Meg Market, you will see each meg tooth includes up to 3 measurements, L1, L2, and W. The first measurement (L1) is the longest slant length, the second (L2) is the shorter slant length, and the third measurement number is the width of the tooth at its widest point. When describing the length of a tooth, it is common to just use the longest slant length, as that is what really drives the value more so than the other two lengths. With smaller shark teeth, this is the often the only measurement given.
Why bigger teeth are more expensive
In nature, a relatively small number of animals reach the maximum size for their species. This means a relatively small number of megalodon sharks would attain the maximum estimated size of around 60 ft in length. There just weren't as many super large teeth created by megs as smaller ones. As previously mentioned, the environment is very destructive on fossil shark teeth, and the bigger a tooth is, the more likely the environment will have done some type of damage. This is another factor that causes large megs in good condition to be rare.
When people hear of teeth being 4, 5, or even 6 inches, they sometimes don't realize just how much bigger a tooth gets in weight and overall mass compared to slant length. Above is an example of a 3, 4, 5, and 6 inch meg tooth. This size comparison shows just how drastic of a difference each inch in slant length makes on a fossil meg tooth's overall size. One has to see a large meg tooth in person to truly get a sense of just how massive these creatures really were. The chart below illustrates how large these sharks grew compared to 3 large modern day shark species (chart available in 24" X 36" poster here.)
Well preserved shark teeth have one or more holes in the center of the root area. These holes were access points where nerves/veins could feed the living tooth with the nutrients it required. Well preserved fossil shark teeth will have one or more nutrient holes present.
Lower vs upper teeth
When someone describes a meg tooth, or any other shark tooth as a "lower" or "upper" tooth, they are referring to the position in the sharks mouth in which the tooth existed during the time the shark was alive. Teeth in the lower part of the mouth are more narrow and dagger shaped, and it is thought they did a better job of puncturing and holding the prey, while the teeth in the upper jaw are more wide and flat and acted more as saw blades, slicing off the large chunks of meat the megalodon craved. This pattern of lower and upper teeth is seen in many living sharks today, as well as in the fossil shark remains of the past. Fossil lower shark teeth are found less so than uppers, making them more rare. Theories include the shark lost them less often, as well as they are destroyed more often by the environment due to the shape of the tooth itself.
Anterior vs posterior teeth
When one describes a shark tooth as posterior or anterior, they are referring to the position in the sharks mouth the tooth would have been located. Posterior teeth are wider and shorter, and tend to be smaller in general. A large posterior tooth indicates a very large shark. Anterior teeth are longer, flatter, and more narrow. They are the teeth that can attain maximum length.
How are fossil shark teeth found?
Fossil shark teeth are found in a few different ways. Fossil layers occur at different depths depending on location, and this influences the methods used to recover the fossils they contain. In some locations, shark teeth can be found eroding out of the natural surface layers of the area. In these locations, one needs to do little more than walk a creek, or dig a few feet into the ground to uncover fossils. However It takes many dedicated shark tooth hunters years of searching to find a large meg in the 4-6" range, and many can go their entire lives without finding a large intact meg.
In other locations the fossil layers are deeper and are usually only accessible by diving in rivers that penetrate far enough into the ground to reach them. The divers that recover fossils in these rivers are exposed to many hazards, including swift currents, zero visibility water, dangerous wildlife and entanglements. Several divers have perished in the past undertaking this type of fossil hunting.
How are teeth priced?
Newcomers to the hobby of collecting fossil shark teeth often wonder why the price range can vary so much from one tooth to the next. It can be confusing when two teeth of similar size and shape can have hundreds of dollars difference in price. To put it simply, it all comes down to rarity. It is estimated by scientists the marine fossils we recover in the southeastern US are anywhere from 2-20 million years old. Its hard to comprehend a bone or tooth surviving that long and it is easy to imagine all the things time can do to damage a fossil over the eons. The majority of vertebrate fossils found by fossil hunters around the world are in a poor state of preservation. For a fossil to survive over the millennia and maintain a pristine state of preservation is a rare occurrence and the price of such specimens reflects their rarity. A general rule of thumb is the more well preserved a shark tooth, the more rare it is (since shark teeth with some damage are more common than pristine teeth). However compared with some other types of fossils, fossil shark teeth (including megalodon teeth) are not considered a rare fossil. So much so that they are not considered to be valuable to science because of the sheer number of teeth in existence. However, large well preserved meg teeth are found much less often than smaller megs with some damage, making them much more rare. Megalodon teeth are generally considered to be a good investment because they tend to appreciate in value over the years.
There are many, many more broken fragments of teeth found than whole teeth, and among the whole teeth found only a small number of them are in a state of high preservation. It is theorized by many fossil hunters that once fossils are naturally released from the sediment in the deep fast moving currents of rivers, they are soon damaged by the environment to the point of being destroyed. This means the best quality fossils are likely found soon after they are released out of the sediment, making them even harder to find in an almost perfect state of preservation. Damage to fossil shark teeth comes in all shapes and forms but the serrations (the fine individual blades along the main blade, like a steak knife), shown in the image to the left, are one of the first things to be worn down when a tooth starts to be destroyed by its surroundings. This means teeth with finer, more well preserved serrations are more rare, therefore higher in price. Another part of the meg tooth to be easily damaged is the bourlette (the chevron shaped strip of enamel between the root and the blade of a meg tooth), pictured below.
Not all tooth damage is created equally. Sometimes teeth have a particular type of damage that many shark tooth collectors have come to theorize is caused by the shark biting into its own tooth. This characteristic damage consists of a nick taken out of the side of the blade in a triangular shape, often times in a repeating pattern. Also many times the actual serration pattern is present on the tooth, all but proving it was bitten by the shark. Environmental damage caused by the surroundings the tooth is in is not likely to cause this type of patterned damage. This type of damage is not frowned upon as much as environmental damage because the bite marks were caused by the shark itself, likely in the act of feeding. Teeth with bite marks being the only damage are worth more than typically damaged teeth and frags, and are very cool as they tell a story of a moment in the ancient sharks life.
Restored vs unrestored meg teeth
Sometimes fossil dealers and collectors have broken megalodon teeth "restored", which usually means a skilled professional will add on to the missing or broken spots to mask the damage and make the tooth appear whole. There is nothing wrong with restoring teeth as long as the restoration is fully disclosed in the sale, however restored teeth are worth less than a whole pristine unaltered tooth. The problems arise when unscrupulous fossil dealers sell restored teeth as unaltered, original pieces.
As you can see, the restored areas filled in with epoxy/clay mimic the surrounding enamel very closely. Once paint was applied, the natural damage was almost completely disguised. All teeth for sale at Meg Market are unrestored and unrepaired. The teeth you see are only cleaned with fresh water and marine growth removed manually by hand. When we say 100% authentic and unaltered, we are making a guarantee that there has never been any work done to improve the appearance of a tooth.
Collect fossil shark teeth!
Collecting fossil shark teeth is a great hobby for shark enthusiasts of any age. By collecting fossil shark teeth as opposed to modern ones, one can be assured they are not taking part in shark finning and other practices that damage and endanger shark species around the globe. Getting to hold a real piece of earth's natural history such as a megalodon tooth is an experience that never gets old. An ancient tooth from an extinct shark that for millions of years was the king tyrant of the seas, the scourge of the oceans that fed on whales, giant sea turtles, and what ever else it wanted. It gives one a sense of wonder and awe that is hard to match.
Copyright © 2020