Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shark Teeth 101

On several occasions my dad and I walked the beaches of the barrier islands and searched for prehistoric shark teeth.  The tides and wave action of the Gulf of Mexico constantly wash up the fossilized remains of these ocean predators.  Because a shark's skeleton is made of cartilage the only part to survive long enough to become fossilized are the teeth.

It took me a few days to come up with a way to display the teeth that we found.  My original thoughts were to use a piece of wood with nice grain and color as a backdrop for my photograph.  On Saturday my wife/best friend LeeAnn took me to see Norah Jones live in Indianapolis.  While enjoying a great musical performance it slowly dawned on me.  The guitar adds a rough idea of scale to the picture and I still get the wood grain theme. Don't forget to click on the image for detailed examination.

The color of the sharks teeth is dependent upon the minerals present in the sediment where the tooth lay buried.  Most of my teeth are black with others being yellow, brown and even a few gray ones. (The shark ones that is.)  I am no shark expert so please take my specifications with a grain of salt.  Sharks have swum the oceans of Earth for millions of years.  The majority of my specimens appear to be Lemon and Bull shark teeth and maybe a few Dusky and Mako.  These examples are probably between 15 and 50 million years old.  A curious observation I have made is that when comparing fossilized remains to present day shark teeth the two are remarkably similar.  No doubt sharks have been around a very long time.  No further evolution necessary. 

Stump Pass and the Gulf of Mexico

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