Florida has a lot of marine fossils as millions of years ago it was submerged under the ocean. Caspersen Beach in Venice, Florida, has four miles of beachfront where sharks teeth may be found.
Hunting for Caspersen Beach shark teeth is a popular activity for fossil and shark lovers. This Venice beach is called the "shark's tooth capital of the world" due to the millions of sharks teeth that have washed ashore over the years.
Brief History of Sharks
Ancient species of sharks first roamed the oceans more than 420 million years ago. Modern forms of sharks can be dated back to before the dinosaurs in the Jurassic period.
Fossils have enabled scientists to identify up to 3,000 species of shark that used to swim in the oceans including the famous and gigantic Megalodon.
Shark Tooth Facts
Finding a shark's tooth doesn't mean the shark is at a disadvantage with their ability to eat, because sharks continually renew their teeth. Sharks may have up to eight rows of teeth at any one time.
A shark's tooth is replaced by the tooth in the row behind it each time one falls out. Throughout a shark's lifetime, they will shed thousands of teeth.
Sharks continuously grow and replace new teeth throughout their life cycle. Young sharks and those that live in warmer waters can grow new teeth faster. A shark may go through 30,000 teeth in its lifetime. Their strong jaws and regular replacement of teeth help them kill their prey.
Fossilization only occurs under a specific set of conditions, including lack of oxygen, otherwise, the tissues will break down. There are two main types of fossils: compressions, which is when the organic matter is preserved, or impressions, when an imprint of the organism is all that remains. In the oceans, sharks teeth fall to the oxygen-depleted sediments below where they are buried and fossilized.
As sharks are cartilaginous, it is rare to find a whole fossilized shark skeleton. Typically shark teeth are the only part of a shark to fossilize as they are enameloid and able to calcify. Sharks teeth shedding also increases their chance of fossilization as there are so many spread across a variety of locations.
Shark Teeth Colors
The color helps indicate the tooth age. Fresh shark teeth are white. Fossilized shark teeth are typically a dark grey, black or brown color.
The color will depend on the type of minerals in the sediment that leached into the pores of the teeth during fossilization, a process called permineralization.
Shark Teeth Shape
The shape of shark teeth varies depending on where in the shark's mouth it originated. Despite specific variations in size and shape when you look at pictures of shark teeth, you can see they are triangular with a broad root section at the base.
The sides of a shark's tooth is serrated. Shark tooth shape helps researchers identify between different species.
When to Hunt for Shark Teeth
The time of day to hunt for shark teeth will vary depending on the Caspersen Beach tides. The best time to look for sharks teeth is at low tide.
High and low tides are influenced by the Earth's rotation and the gravitational pull by the moon. Every 24 hours and 50 minutes, there are two low tides and two high tides.
Hunting for Venice Beach Shark Teeth
People hunting for fossilized sharks teeth at Caspersen Beach won't need waders and may be able to find them without a sifter if they look at low tide. Near the water's edge, a dark band of sand is visible.
This band generally contains fossilized sharks teeth that have washed ashore. People looking for sharks teeth should wander alongside this dark band, keeping an eye out for triangular objects.
- National Geographic: Florida by Water: Hunt for Shark’s Teeth
- A Dictionary of Ecology: Fossilization
- American Geo Sciences: Under What Conditions Do Fossils Form?ils
- National Geographic: Fossil
- Florida Museum: Fossil Shark Teeth
- Florida Museum: Shark Biology
- Florida Museum: Shark Facts
- NOAA: How Frequent Are Tides?
- Using a magnifying glass could be helpful but is not required.
About the Author
Adrianne Elizabeth is a freelance writer and editor. She has a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Biodiversity, and Marine Biology from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Driven by her love and fascination with all animals behavior and care, she also gained a Certificate in Captive Wild Animal Management from UNITEC in Auckland, New Zealand, with work experience at Wellington Zoo. Before becoming a freelance writer, Adrianne worked for many years as a Marine Aquaculture Research Technician with Plant & Food Research in New Zealand. Now Adrianne's freelance writing career focuses on helping people achieve happier, healthier lives by using scientifically proven health and wellness techniques. Adrianne is also focused on helping people better understand ecosystem functions, their importance, and how we can each help to look after them.
petrified shark teeth image by PHOTOFLY from Fotolia.com