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9 Year Old Girl Finds Megalodon Tooth on US Beach

9 Year Old Girl Finds Megalodon Tooth in US Beach
Nine-year-old girl finds megalodon tooth on US beach. Credit: Jeff Bryant / Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

Molly, a nine-year-old girl discovered a 15 million years old rare shark tooth on a Maryland beach.

Alicia Sampson, Molly’s mother, remembers her and her oldest sister, Natalie, requesting and receiving insulated waders and fossil sifters so they could go shark tooth hunting in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay near the Calvert Cliffs.

At 9:30 in the morning, they put on their brand-new waders and headed out into the chilly cold to go hunting with their dad, Bruce Sampson. Low tide meant they could go farther in search of fossils.

An aspiring paleontologist, Molly announced matter-of-factly that she was going to seek a meg, the common name for the enormous shark that lived during the Miocene Era. She had long sought one like it.

An odd sight struck her eyes less than half an hour later when she was in water up to her knees.

“I went closer, and in my head, I was like, ‘Oh, my, that is the biggest tooth I’ve ever seen!'” Molly says excitedly during an interview on Wednesday. “I reached in and grabbed it, and dad said I was shrieking.”

Alicia claims that Bruce has taken his young girls fossil hunting since they were young. While he, too, hopes to unearth enormous teeth, the biggest one he’s ever found measures just around three inches, making it, as Alicia puts it, a “baby tooth” in comparison to Molly’s.

Calvert Marine Museum verified origins

After a little more than a week had passed since Molly’s discovery, the family decided to take the fossil to the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland in order to have its origins verified.

Stephen Godfrey, the museum’s curator of paleontology and Molly’s old science instructor from Vacation Bible School, says that when they arrived, staff were in the middle of disassembling a shark exhibit.

It wasn’t the first time the Sampsons had brought him a treasure, but this one certainly topped the list.

“It’s a spectacular specimen,” Godfrey says. “It’s one of the larger ones that’s probably never been found along Calvert Cliffs” and might be a “once-in-a-lifetime kind of find.”

Despite the Calvert Cliffs’ well-deserved reputation as a fossil hotspot, the Calvert Marine Museum’s collection includes absolutely no megalodon teeth any longer than six inches.

According to Godfrey, the tooth was from the upper left jaw of a megalodon that was forty-five to fifty feet long and existed some fifteen million years ago. The shark, a macropredator that cannot swallow its food whole, used its specialized, serrated teeth to scavenge and hunt whales and dolphins.

“It basically evolved those kinds of teeth so that it could cut out pieces, just like great white sharks do,” Godfrey says. “They sort of chomp the carcass of their prey” rather than swallowing it whole.

Inspiration for other kids

Godfrey has expressed a desire for the story of Molly’s discovery to become an inspiration for other kids to learn more about the natural world and the sciences.

“It’s kind of cool that she was motivating other kids to get outside and explore,” Alicia says.

Since Christmas, Molly has gone out fossil hunting many times, adding to her collection of over four hundred teeth among which is also the megalodon tooth. Now that she has waders, she has no plans to slow down.

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