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SHARKS TEETH - General Info




The largest and most impressive  of extinct sharks






Bull, Dusty, and Black-tipped are abundant, however they are difficult to distinguish from each other and from Lemon Sharks


extinct mako
extinct mako2


shortfin mako
Mako teeth range from 0.25" to 2" long and are one of the more plentiful finds


extinct tiger

tiger 2
Tiger shark teeth are usually less than 1"



Active shark fishing has taken a bite out of the local shark population, and sharks are a rare sight here today. But along the Venice area beaches, you'll find plenty of evidence that incredible numbers of sharks once lived nearby.

Collecting prehistoric sharks teeth has been a favorite pastime of visitors and residents of the Venice area for years. They may be black, brown, or gray, depending on the minerals in the soil in which they have been buried. They range in size from one eighth inch to three inches, and on rare occasions more.

Sharks of all species continually shed their teeth and grow new ones. They have 40 or more teeth in each jaw. Behind the functional rows or teeth are seven other rows of teeth developing into mature dentures to replace teeth as they are shed or lost. In ten years, an average Tiger shark can produce as many as 24,000 teeth.

Besides sharks teeth, fossils of other marine creatures are also found in this area. Because millions of years ago most of Florida was under water, many fossils are found inland as well as on the beaches. State law prohibits digging without a permit however.

Identification of sharks teeth, which come in many different shapes and sizes, is relatively easy. All of the teeth in the mouth of a single type of shark are the same shape. They vary only  in size. The shape of the teeth of each species is distinct. Local book stores offer many books on the subject.

For millions of years, sharks have lived and died in the Gulf of Mexico. Dead sharks sink to the ocean floor where they are covered by layers of sand and silt. Over time, the cartilage of their bodies disintegrates. Water and storm action eventually sweeps the sand away, exposing the teeth. Some are washed up on shore with the changing tides and waves.

There are over three hundred and seventy distinct species of sharks. They are all cartilage based fish without air bladders. Dermal denticles, which are rough scales with tooth-like structure, cover their skin. Digestively, they have a special adaptation called a spiral valve which increases surface area in a rather short intestinal tract. Any further statement about shark biology or behavior would truly depend upon the species. Sizes range from the dwarf shark which rarely attains much more that half a foot to the sixty foot 40 ton whale sharks. Fortunately, the two largest species, whale and basking sharks, make their living filter feeding one of the ocean's smallest animals. These gentle slow-moving giants have hundreds of rows of hair-like gill rakers that cull plankton and tiny fish from the water flowing through their mouth.


The danger sharks pose to man:

Of hundreds of species of sharks, a handful are filter feeders deriving their nutrition from creatures smaller than several millimeters. Another substantial fraction live at depths not visited by man except within enclosed submersibles. Many more species are too small to pose a threat to man. Others have specialized adaptations that dictates the food sources they utilize: the long whip-like tail of the thresher; the impaling teeth of the sand sharks; the flat crushing teeth of the nurses. Remaining are a few dozen species that have the physique if not the inclination to feed on Homo Sapiens. Of all of these only three species are known to participate in unprovoked attacks on people: bulls, tigers, and great whites. Yet, we have developed an irrational fear of all sharks.

Other useful sites of Shark Species and tooth identification

Mote Marine Laboratory, Center for Shark Research, Sarasota

Gulf of Mexico Sharks, Ocean of Know

Shark Tooth Key, National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.

Florida Museum of Natural History, Ichthyology Department Home Page

Natal Sharks Board, Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa

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