Shark Tooth Collector's Guide.
am often asked what to look for when buying a tooth?
the Megalodon tooth is the most collected fossil, this guide includes
information on what collectors look for when purchasing one. Collectors
look for different things when shopping for teeth, including condition,
size, price, restoration, shape and color.
condition of the enamel, bourrelet, serrations, tip, and root will add
or detract from the value of the tooth.
| Enamel. Smooth enamel is an Important feature
of Meg teeth. The enamel on the tooth on the left is peeled, while
the tooth on the right has smooth enamel
A complete and perfect root separates a nice tooth from an exceptional
tooth. This tooth has nubs on each side which is a rare feature
in Megalodon Teeth.
bourrelet is the thin triangular band of enamel between
the blade and the root. Because the bourrelet is so thin, very
few teeth have a full bourrelet
One thing that amazes collectors is that millions of years later,
these sharp and delicate serrations remain as sharp as the blade
on a knife.
size of a Megalodon tooth is measured in different ways. When people
give the size of a tooth in inches, they are generally referring to
the diagonal length of the tooth. Another important determination
of the size of the tooth is its weight.
diagonal length Is determined by measuring from the tip of the blade
to the corner of the root. When someone tells you that they have a 5"
tooth they are saying that the diagonal length of the longer size is
5". When purchasing a tooth, people usually would like to know the length
of both sides of the tooth. This is why you usually see references to
two lengths when people are selling a tooth. L1 is the length of the
longer side and L2 is the length of the shorter tooth.
white line in the picture represents the length of the longer
side (L1) while the darker gray line represents the length of
the shorter side (L2).
a tooth be aware what the person describing the tooth used to measure
it. The length of a tooth cannot be accurately determined
by using a ruler. A caliper measures lengths to 1/1000 of an inch.
Some dealers give an approximate measurement. This is fine
until you find that your 6" tooth is only 5.95". This may not seem
like much of a difference, but it can sometimes mean that the tooth
is not as valuable. The difference in value between a 5.95" tooth
and a 6" tooth can easily be hundreds of dollars.
be suspicious when someone selling a tooth tells you that a tooth is
5" or 5-1/2". This is a sign that they eyeballed the length
with a ruler and it is probably not accurate. The tooth may measure
5.47", but they round it to 5-1/2" hoping to get more money than the
tooth is worth.
We always measure with a caliper and show the exact measurement
to 1/100 of an inch.
Can be Deceiving.
looks like it measures close to 5",
but at 4.72" the actual measurement is less than 4-3/4".
Just looking at the length of a tooth is not enough. The weight of a
tooth adds to its overall effect as much as the length does. Two teeth
with the same diagonal length can have very different weights. Similarly,
the weight of a tooth usually increases greatly with length. An average
5" tooth is not just an inch longer than an average 4" tooth. It can
weigh more than twice as much as the 4" tooth. In addition, the value
of similar teeth increases greatly with size.
The picture above
shows a 3" tooth, 4" tooth, 5" tooth and 6-1/8" tooth side by side.
It is clear that there is more to the size difference than simply
a 1" difference in length from tooth to tooth. They weigh 2.5oz.
4oz. 7oz. and 15 oz. respectively
any price you can get a nicer smaller tooth or a larger tooth that is
in lesser condition. Only you can decide if size or condition is more
important to you. The
hardest thing about selling Meg teeth is determaning the price.
Every tooth is
different. Decide what you want in a tooth, look around and ask questions.
It is hard to show what a tooth is really like in a few pictures.
Call the seller on the phone and get their assessment of the tooth.
See if it is what you really want. Don't settle for second best.
most common types of altered teeth are repaired teeth and polished
Damaged teeth can be
repaired so that the damage is not noticeable. A broken root or peeled
enamel can be added back to make the tooth look more natural. When purchasing
a tooth be sure that you know if the tooth has been restored. I
find the teeth that I sell and do not repair roots or enamel to teeth.
There is nothing wrong with buying a repaired tooth. It is one way to
get a larger tooth for less money. Since repaired teeth are worth less
than similar unrepaired teeth it is important to know what you are buying.
you buy a tooth be sure to know whether the tooth has not been repaired,
restored or altered. Call the seller and ask questions.
Does he know the history of the tooth? Some people are artists
and can make alterations that are virtually undetectable. They will
add back peeled enamel, a missing root corner or a chipped off tip.
There is nothing wrong with this as long as the seller advertises these
repaired teeth have been sold on the Internet as unrepaired because
the seller did not know the history of the tooth. They bought and sold
a tooth that someone altered years ago and never knew it. I find all
of the teeth I sell so I can tell you more about it than most resellers
can. If you would like a repaired tooth, call me and I can give
you the names of dealers that I think do the best job of repairing teeth.
are only two ways to be sure that you are getting an unaltered tooth.
The first and most practical way is to get it from a trusted source.
The only other way to be sure is to find it yourself.
a tooth is a way to make a damaged tooth more attractive. A tooth with
blade damage can be ground and polished with a diamond polisher. Like
repaired teeth, polished teeth let you purchase a larger more attractive
tooth for less money. When I sell polished teeth I always clearly
label a tooth as polished. Below is an example of a tooth before
and after it was polished. You can clearly see how attractive the tooth
is after it is polished. Again there is nothing wrong with polished
or restored teeth as long as you know what you are getting.
and after photos of a polished tooth.
Some people prefer teeth that have a certain
shape. Just like with human teeth, the shape of a shark tooth is determined
by the tooth's jaw position. A tooth in the front of the jaw differs in
shape from a tooth towards the back of the jaw.
A tooth in the upper jaw differs in shape
from a tooth in the lower jaw.The Megalodon had hundreds of teeth
in its massive mouth.There were up to four rows each of upper and lower
teeth. These rows were stacked behind one another.When a shark shed a
tooth, it had plenty of other teeth to assist it in eating. Each row could
contain as many as 30 teeth at one time.
Teeth in the upper jaw are wider than lower teeth.
The lower teeth
tend to be narrower than upper teeth.They have a dagger-like shape
and the root has a deep V shape
The types of teeth
can be divided into three categories, Anterior, Posterior and Lateral.
The teeth in
the very front of the Meg's mouth are anterior teeth.These teeth
are wider and longer and have a symmetrical shape.
Many people collect
anterior teeth because of their shape and size. Many of the larger
teeth are anterior teeth.
Teeth in the
very back of the Megalodon's mouth are called posterior teeth
and are short wide.This picture shows a pair of posterior teeth,
one upper and one lower.
a favorite of many collectors because of their unusual shape.
These teeth sit
between the anterior and posterior teeth. They are thinner than
anterior teeth and have a curve or hook.
above shows part of a row of Megalodon teeth. A full row of teeth
would not fit on this 64" stand.
Some people ask if
you can determine the age of a tooth by the color. The answer is that
you cannot. The sediment in which it was buried while fossilizing, not
the age of the tooth, determines the tooth's color. As the tooth decayed,
it absorbed the minerals around it which helped to determine the tooth's
The enamel can come in several colors. Some collectors prefer
one color over another. The teeth above have brown, gray and black
are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing a tooth. If you have
any questions call me at 912-656-2920. I would be happy to talk with
you and answer any questions.