The multiple hidden and exposed shores of Charleston and South Carolina have so many incredible things to discover. Who knew that treasure thousands of years old waiting to be found, all hidden in plain sight?
Hello adventurers, and welcome back to the blog! What is one of your favorite things to do while visiting and exploring the beaches, barrier islands, sand bars, dunes, and any shore you can find a haven on right here in South Carolina? Do you like to splash in the waves, go or a dip, read, relax, or do you like to go on a treasure hunt? Our waterways, coastlines, and shores of all kinds hold so many different kinds of treasures; the sunsets, views, wildlife, plant life, sights, and sounds are all waiting to be discovered. Littered along the lapping waters is treasure aplenty that you’ll find tourists and locals alike spending hours looking for; seashells, fossils, sea glass, doubloons, messages in bottles, and perhaps even a shark tooth or two!
There is something so powerful and mystifying about finding a shark tooth from the very small to the palm-sized and ancient Megalodon-sized teeth. These incredible pieces of the marine world are a link to some of the ocean’s most powerful and mysterious creatures. For many, finding a shark tooth is the closest they’ll ever get to a real shark. We are just as transfixed over shark teeth as you are, so much so that we have three expeditions dedicated to them; finding them, learning how to find them, how to recognize them in fossil form, and much more. With so much love and adoration about shark teeth, we wanted to talk a little more about them, give some tips on how to find them, and more. We hope this blog helps inspire you to go on your next treasure hunt and to help you discover even more treasures than you have ever found before.
Before they become the treasures you might find on your next adventure, we need to talk about shark teeth while they’re still just functioning as everyday teeth for our sharky friends. The number of teeth a shark has depends upon the size of the shark itself. Shark teeth have no root, so they are constantly falling gout. That’s okay! Sharks have between three and 15 rows of developing teeth at any given time in their mouths, and their gums naturally move these teeth into their proper biting positions constantly, kind of like a conveyor belt. While shark teeth look ominous in their mouths, what makes these teeth even more terrifying is the power in a shark’s jaw, which over time has continued to grow stronger and stronger. Put the two together, and you have something very dangerous.
According to National Geographic, their teeth come in all shapes and sizes and a shark can lose over 50, 000 teeth in their lifetime. According to fossils and other discoveries made over time, sharks have been around for more than 400 million years, says National Geographic. That means they’ve been around since before the dinosaurs. So do the math, if all the sharks that have ever lived in over 400 million years have lost around 50,000 teeth each in their lifetime, the amount of shark’s teeth waiting to still be found and discovered all over the world is huge. With the current population of sharks globally, finding shark teeth will continue to be a popular activity. There are still tons of incredible teeth to be found for many years to come.
There is a possibility that you could find a freshly lost shark tooth, but it is rare. They will be white in color, similar to normal tooth color, but being mixed in with other white shells and being in the water, it can make it hard to find them or even identify them against so many other precious white shells and broken pieces of fossils and bones frequently found on the shores. What you will mostly be finding are shark teeth in fossil form, which will be back, grey or tan. According to thoughtco.com
, shark teeth are made up of calcium phosphate. Unless they wash up on shore relatively soon after falling out of a shark’s mouth, they will disintegrate over time. That is, however, unless they go through the fossilization process. A tooth will fall out of a shark’s mouth and is buried in the ocean floor. This will naturally preserve the tooth, keeping it safe from oxygen and bacteria that can lead to decomposition. The dark colors of a shark tooth fossil come from absorbing minerals found in the ground around them. It takes thousands of years for a shark’s tooth to finally become a fossil. So, remember those sharks we talked about existing 400 million years ago? There is a chance their teeth and their ancestors could wash up on the short today. Fossilized shark teeth that you find will be thousands of years old, which is a pretty incredible fact to remember every time you find one.
Remember, South Carolina is home to millions of fossils, you just need to know what you’re looking for. Good news for you, this is something we are experts at helping our patrons with! According to the SC Department of Parks, one of the very first fossils ever found was found right here in South Carolina, the tooth of a Columbia Mammoth. The creature lived here more than 10,000 years ago. Today, the Columbia Mammoth is the state fossil of South Carolina.
Now, we’ve all been in at least one gift shop where shark teeth are made into a piece of jewelry, keychains, and other tchotchke items. However, there might be a few things about shark teeth that you might want to know that go beyond their wearability.
Before they were used as statement pieces in jewelry, they were used as weapons or to help prepare and cook food. Incredibly important or useful teeth were passed down through generations, both in royal and nonroyal families.
According to some, the shark tooth when worn is said to be a form of protection. Surfers, swimmers, and other believers of these tales will wear shark teeth in the belief that it can prevent a shark attack.
While shark teeth aren’t hard to find, there is still a small thrill in finding them. While some are common, others can be extremely rare and be very valuable.
HOW TO FIND THE TREASURE!
Now you might be thinking, if these fossils are so old, dark in color, and can come in all shapes and sizes how is it possible to find them and recognize them while you’re looking? We can help with that! According to Garden and Gun, we are living in a fossil-rich area. You can find fossilized shark teeth that are between ten thousand and seventy-five million years old!
One good rule of thumb is to find an area on the beach that has a pile of shells or gravel to look in. If you find one tooth, it is very possible to find another. What collects together on the beach is very similar in size and weight, which is why it is so often that you find your shark teeth mixed in with your sea sells.
As we mentioned, most shark teeth you find will be fossilized, so narrow your search by looking for black objects.
The fossil will be very dense, while the shells are very brittle. If you can easily break the item you find, it’s most likely not a shark tooth.
Look for symmetry and patterns in these dense black objects. These patterns aren’t something that is commonly found in older shells. Patterns in old shells are usually eroded over time due to sand and erosion.
Remember, while many of our expeditions are focused on finding and recognizing shark teeth, the fossils you can find on the beaches are outstanding and also plentiful. You can find fossils that are just as old and impressive as many shark teeth. According to Garden and Gun, you can find Ice Age animal fossils, saber-tooth tiger teeth, bison teeth, and much more when looking.
Look to see that the black thick object you’ve found has a gumline and ridges that make it look like a tooth. Those ridges are a telltale sign of it being a shark tooth and not something else.
The tooth will shine like onyx.
We will teach you all of this and much more on our tours!
While we are looking for and look at shark teeth that can be over 10,000 years old, we will also be talking about the importance of sharks in today’s ecosystem during our tours. We will see the living and breathing marine life of today and step back in time as we teach you even more on how to identify not only shark teeth but incredible and very important fossils! On our shark tooth kayak trip on Shem creek, you could find teeth from Great White, Bull, Hammerhead, Lemon, Sharp Nose, Black Tip, Mako, Tiger, and Megalodon Sharks! Sound exciting to you? You bet it is! Let’s get going!
How have your recent treasure hunts been? Are you still unsuccessful in your attempts at finding your dream shark teeth or even any shark teeth at all? Don’t be discouraged! Come join us on your next adventure and discover what you’ve always been waiting for! We are so excited to share these next adventures with you and coastal experiences. Come and join us outdoors and find exactly what you are looking for. As one of our very first blogs of 2021, we hope that you are ready to start a new year with us! We are thankful for all of your support that you showed us last year, and hope to provide, protect, and support the Lowcountry and South Carolina as best and better than we did in 2020. We look forward to seeing you soon, and to continue your love of the outdoors!