Nature

Skipper finds 22-million-year-old tooth from 50-foot megalodon shark

Michael Nastasio found the 6-1/16-inch megalodon tooth while diving off the Gulf Coast of Venice, Florida

A Florida boat captain has found a 6-inch tooth that belonged to a prehistoric Megalodon shark.

Michael Nastasio was diving off the coast of Venice, Fla. when he made the discovery, and said, “I can’t take my eyes off of it.”

Megalodon (which means “large tooth”) is a shark species that lived about 23 million to 3.6 million years ago, from the Early Miocene to the Pliocene eras. They were closely related to great white sharks, and are often considered to have been one of the biggest predators on Earth.

Nastasio, who owns Black Gold Fossil Charters, said he found the 6-1/16 inch tooth in an area of the Gulf of Mexico known for the shark teeth found on the local sea bed.

While Nastasio has found many other shark teeth, this one is so impressive, he said he will keep it.

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I’m so happy right now and literally still shaking,” he posted on Facebook after his discovery. “I have been fossil hunting for almost 11 years and running my own charter now for a little over a year. I have found thousands of megalodon shark teeth and other various fossils. I’m in the water with the customers a lot of times, and you can hear them underwater when they find a tooth. You can hear them yell It just makes you feel good.

Megalodon “was not only the biggest shark in the world, but one of the largest fish ever to exist. Estimates suggest it grew to between 15 and 18 meters [49–59 feet] in length, three times longer than the largest recorded great white shark,” according to London’s Natural History Museum.ize comparison between humans, modern Great White Sharks and the ancient Giant Megatooth. (Mary Parrish/Smithsonian Institution)

A complete megalodon skeleton has never been recovered, and the museum says these figures are based on the size of the animal’s teeth, which can reach 7 inches [18 centimeters] long.

The megalodon’s massive, serrated teeth indicate it was a meat-eater, and would have preyed on large fish, dolphins, whales and even other sharks, according to the museum.

In order to tackle prey as large as whales, megalodon had to be able to open its mouth wide. It is estimated that its jaw would span 2.7 by 3.4 meters [9–11 feet] wide, easily big enough to swallow two adult people side-by-side,” the museum’s website says.

“These jaws were lined with 276 teeth, and studies reconstructing the shark’s bite force suggest that it may have been one of the most powerful predators ever to have existed.”

Written by JOSEPH GOLDER 

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