Boy Finds Enormous Tooth of Prehistoric Megatooth Shark in South Carolina

A young boy has found an enormous tooth from a prehistoric shark in South Carolina.

The boy was taking part in a fossil hunting trip in Summerville hosted by Palmetto Fossil Excursions (PFE) when he stumbled across a 4.75-inch tooth from a prehistoric megatoothed shark known as Carcharocles angustidens, according to the company.

"Congratulations kiddo! Truly the find of a lifetime!!!" the company said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

PFE said finding any tooth from this ancient shark species larger than 4 inches is the equivalent of finding a 6.5-inch long tooth from a megalodon.

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Megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon) is an iconic shark species that is thought to have gone extinct around 3.6 million years ago. Its earliest remains date back more than 20 million years ago.

Megalodon is considered to be one of the largest and most powerful predators to have ever lived. Some estimates suggest it could have grown to between roughly 50 feet and 60 feet in length, according to the Natural History Museum in London.

Megalodon teeth can grow up to around 7 inches in length, although a more common size is between 3 and 5 inches, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History. Thus any tooth from this prehistoric species measuring 6.5 inches can be considered a large specimen.

C. angustidens belongs to the same family of sharks as megalodon but lived around 33 million to 22 million years ago.

Reconstruction of a prehistoric shark's jaw
A young boy has found an enormous tooth of a prehistoric shark in South Carolina. Above, a reconstruction of a prehistoric shark's jaw. iStock

These megatoothed sharks were the largest sharks of all time and were significantly bigger than today's great white sharks. For context, the largest great whites on record are around 20 feet in length.

Even C. angustidens, which is smaller than megalodon, grew to larger sizes than the biggest great whites. One C. angustidens specimen, found in New Zealand, was estimated to be around 31 feet in length, according to a study published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

This size indicates that C. angustidens, which has been found all over the world, would have been a powerful predator, like megalodon, whose diet likely consisted of whales, giant turtles and other marine animals.

And like megalodon, the vast majority of C. angustidens remains that are found tend to be teeth, although occasionally vertebrae are uncovered too.

This is because teeth are the hardest part of a shark's skeleton. While shark teeth can fossilize relatively easily, the rest of the skeleton—which is made from softer cartilage and soft tissue—is preserved only in very rare cases.