Florida Woman Finds Megalodon Tooth While Out Walking Her Dog

A woman discovered a megalodon tooth while walking her dog in the Eglin Reservation, northwest Florida, earlier this month.

The find was discovered by chance on a dirt road she had passed dozens of times before. It has since been confirmed as belonging to Carcharocles megalodon—the largest shark to have lived—by three paleontologists at the University of Florida.

Megalodons were apex predators that dominated the oceans 20 million to 3 million years ago. Based on fossils left behind, scientists believe the species reached lengths of 60 feet—making them more three times the size of the average great white shark.

The species also had sizable teeth, hence their name—which literally translates to "large tooth."

According to the Natural History Museum in London, a megalodon's tooth could grow up to 7 inches, roughly the same size as a banana. Each animal is thought to have had 276 of these teeth and a bite force of 108,514 to 182,201 Newtons (N). To put that into perspective, a human has a bite is around 1,317 N. The great white's is around 18,216 N.

Megalodon Gemination VS Great White Shark Tooth stock photo
A woman found a megalodon's tooth while walking her dog. The shark had 276 teeth, each growing up to 7 inches long. Stock image: a megalodon gemination (two teeth developed from one) and a white shark tooth. Mark Kostich/iStock

Scientists at the University of Florida suspect the tooth was brought to the Eglin Reservation from a quarry when the dirt road was constructed. Fragments of rock attached to the tooth offer hints to its original location, and its discovery on dirt road supports the hypothesis.

Richard C. Hulbert Jr., collections manager, Division of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told the Northwest Florida Daily News a large part of the tooth's root is missing on one side. The other is more complete and contains pieces of the original rock.

"This is actually an important clue as to the original source of the specimen, so if you decide to remove it, then I suggest you save this piece of rock, or even its pieces if it breaks up as you remove it," he said.

"These teeth are millions of years old," Kayla Klatt—who discovered the tooth—told Northwest Florida Daily News.

Klatt told reporters she stumbled upon the prehistoric find half-buried in the road, explaining how she spotted "the little tiny jagged edge" when the light caught it during an evening walk on May 11. Klatt went back with a friend the following day to dig it up.

Officials with the Eglin Reservation have said it was an "innocent find" but urge those who come across archaeological finds on the land to inform staff in future. In this case, it is likely the tooth was brought onto the reservation and therefore, does not have the same level of importance as a native fossil might.