Every kid loves sharks. These hulking rulers of the ocean capture the imagination of children (and adults too!), and there is no shark bigger, more toothy, and more jawesome than the megalodon. As such, most kids spend a good few days of their childhood trawling beaches for fossilized shark teeth, but, if you’re anything like me, never actually find any.
So, when six-year-old Sammy Shelton pulled a massive megalodon tooth in brilliant condition from an English coastline called Bawdsey beach, you can imagine how excited he was. Measuring 10 centimeters (4 inches) long and nearly the size of his entire hand, this tooth belonged to the largest ever species of shark to swim Earth’s oceans, and has become a personal treasure of Sammy’s.
Pictures of the tooth were sent to an evolutionary biologist from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Professor Ben Garrod, for identification, who confirmed it as a megalodon tooth in remarkable condition.
"It belonged to a megalodon, the largest ever shark, and its teeth are not often found around the UK coastline," said Prof Garrod, reports the BBC.
"Maybe just a handful a year, but this is a particularly good example, in really good condition, whereas they are usually quite worn when found."
The megalodon was a monster shark that lived between 23 to 3.6 million years ago, with the name Otodus megalodon translating to “Big Tooth”. Reaching a staggering length of over 16 meters (52 feet), the megalodon hunted whales and was likely the apex predator at the time. A reduction in baleen whale distribution, among other things, likely led to the extinction of the megalodon millions of years ago, and all that is left are enormous teeth that show just how massive they really were.
Sammy now gets to fulfill pretty much every child's (and IFLScience staff's) dream of having a huge megalodon tooth in his possession, which – although it could be worth around $100 (£80) in monetary terms – will be worth the world to him.