Schoolgirl finds 20million-year-old tooth from biggest shark to exist

Shocked schoolgirl, 12, finds huge 20million-year-old tooth from the biggest shark in history on beach

  • The tooth came from a prehistoric megalodon – which means ‘large tooth’

A 12-year-old schoolgirl was shocked when she found a huge 20million-year-old tooth from the biggest shark ever to exist.

Cydney Root was searching the beach for fossils in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, when she found a tooth large enough to fill a human hand.

Her aunt, Sophie Freestone, recognised it instantly – it was from a megalodon, the biggest shark that ever lived and ruler of the prehistoric oceans. The word megalodon itself means ‘large tooth’.

Miss Freestone, 29, said: ‘We’ve always hunted for shark teeth, we’ve got jars of them and we were saying that day how amazing it would be to find a meg tooth, and we found one.

‘The day before there was a massive cliff-fall, so we went down the next day and it was just in front of the cliff – it was just sitting there on the surface.

Cydney Root, 12, was searching the beach for fossils in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex, when she found a huge 20million-year-old megalodon tooth

The prehistoric shark tooth is large enough to  fill a hand and isn’t commonly found in the UK

A reconstructed megalodon jaws at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science

‘It was my niece Cydney that found it. Her eyes were down looking and then she picked it up to show me.

‘She was like “Sophie, what’s this?” And I was like “oh my God, it’s a meg tooth!”.’

Seeing the size of the fossil brings home the sheer scale of the megalodon.

The species grew up to 18 metres in length and their jaws – which could have swallowed two adult humans at once – were lined with 276 of these teeth.

According to the Natural History Museum, their bite possessed up to 180,000 Newtons of crushing power – ten times that of a great white.

The size and strength of the prehistoric predator is now inspiring Hollywood, with the species depicted in 2018 monster flick The Meg and its upcoming sequel.

Sophie, who lives in Walton-on-the-Naze, said: ‘They were bigger than whales; I think they used to eat whales and I know they used to eat great whites.

‘It goes to show that there were megs floating around here.’

Besides being the largest shark in the world, it was also one of the biggest fish to ever exist. The word megalodon itself means ‘large tooth’

The megalodon appeared in the world’s oceans some 20 million years ago, and went extinct roughly 3.6 million years ago

Hunting for shark teeth is an old pastime in Sophie’s family. But last Thursday – when she was joined by her nieces, Florence Murphy and Cydney – was the first time any of them has found a tooth from the dreaded megalodon.

Sophie said: ‘This is the first one we’ve found in the family.

‘We were really shocked and amazed; really happy and excited.

‘I was glad I was with her and I’m really proud that she found it.

‘But I was slightly jealous, I’m not gonna lie – she beat me to it!’

Cydney now plans to frame the enormous shark tooth on her wall. 

The megalodon appeared in the world’s oceans some 20 million years ago, and went extinct roughly 3.6 million years ago.

Emma Bernard of the Natural History Museum said megalodon teeth were ‘extremely rare’ in the UK, but named Walton-on-the-Naze as one place to look.

She said they are more commonly found in the south-eastern United States, Morocco and Australia.

Back in 1843, Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz gave this shark its initial scientific name, Carcharodon megalodon, based on tooth remains.

But more than 150 years on, additional fossil evidence from which to draw conclusions about their bodies, such as a complete skeleton, has not yet been discovered.

The extinct beast from beneath: Megalodon roamed the seas more than 3.6 million years ago

Pictured: Megalodon

The megalodon, meaning big-tooth, lived between 23 and 3.6 million years ago.

O. megalodon is considered to be one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history and fossil remains suggest it grew up to 65 feet long.

It’s thought the monster looked like a stockier version of today’s much feared great white shark and weighed up to 100 tons.

Megalodon is recognizable due its huge vertebrae and teeth, which are triangular and measure almost eight inches in diagonal length.

Famed fossil hunter Vito ‘Megalodon’ Bertucci took almost 20 years to reconstruct a megalodon’s jaw – largest ever assembled – which measures 11 feet across and is almost 9 feet tall.

The Megalodon’s colossal mouth would have produced a brute force of 10.8 to 18.2 tons.

The ancient shark has been described as a super predator, because it could swim at high speeds and kill a wide variety of prey such as sea turtles and whales, quickly in its strong jaws. 

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