Sammy Shelton was looking for fossils on a beach in England when he found a fossil that turned out to be the tooth of a megalodon, a giant prehistoric shark.

One day, Peter Shelton went with his son Sammy to the beach of Bawdsey (England). Father and son were looking for fossils when suddenly Sammy found a four-inch tooth. “Sammy was very excited because we had never seen a tooth this big and heavy,” says his father.

Photos of these fossil remains were sent to Ben Garrod, an evolutionary biologist at the University of East Anglia. Garrod confirmed that it was a megalodon tooth, Carcharocles megalodon, a huge prehistoric relative of sharks. The scientist was surprised because it was very well preserved and not usually found off the coast of the United Kingdom.

Interestingly, if we lived in the Middle Ages, we would interpret that Sammy Shelton would have discovered the tongue of a dragon and would serve as an amulet for nobles or an antidote against poisons.

Megalodon: We only have the teeth

The teeth are the only fossil remains of the megalodon found, in fact, its scientific name means “big teeth”. According to research, the megalodon was a shark that was approximately 16 meters long, almost three times longer than the current white shark, and that became extinct 2.6 million years ago.

The causes of their extinction can be diverse: lack of prey due to glaciation, that they have not adapted their body temperature to climatic conditions or that is due to a change of fauna, that is, when some species become extinct and new ones emerge. In this case, the megalodon was probably replaced by the white shark.

Its habitat was the warm water seas around the world and it fed on fish, turtles, whales or seals. Due to its characteristics, it is possible that it belonged to the lamniformes family, sharks that have higher body temperatures than other sharks.

The lamniform eggs hatch in the uterus and develop there. If the chicks in the womb are very hungry, they are able to eat whole eggs or even their siblings. This intrauterine cannibalism, as this behavior is called, was probably typical of megalodons.

Representations of Megalodon

Several reconstructions of the jaw of this prehistoric animal have been made. One of them is in Paleontological Museum of Elche (MUPE) in the province of Alicante. Also, in the MUPE exhibition, you can see the teeth of this shark that were found near the city.

In addition to these representations, the megalodon has been one of the protagonists of some books such as invisible animals (Captain Swing, 2021) or movies like Megalodon (2018), starring Jason Statham and Li Bingbing.

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