STL Science Center

STL Science Center

06 March 2013

Teeth of A Killer

©Mike Everhart (he notes that this is a "small part" of his collection)
As noted previously, the teeth of Cretoxyrhina are one of the most common preserved elements of the shark. There are, of course, various reasons for this happening. One reason, and probably the biggest reason, is the positive bias of the fossil record concerning mass of material. Though one tooth does not constitute much mass, the constant shedding, replacement, and cycling of teeth in the well known shark conveyor belt type fashion within the jaw, over time, amounts to an impressive amount of dental mass over the life of a single shark that becomes available for preservation. These massive amounts of teeth allow for the fossils to be discovered all over Cretaceous Kansas soils; it is likely that any given road cut (land sliced through to provide surface area for paved or dirt roads) regardless of size possesses at least a single tooth somewhere along its face. Considering Mr. Everhart has discovered an impressively large number of the teeth and that those before him collected large numbers of teeth, a legacy of shark tooth collection by both private and public collectors since the 1870's at the very least exists in written records, we know that the shark population in the Kansas waters was impressive and that each of those animals shedding probably thousands of teeth over their lifetimes means that, despite the enormous amount of teeth discovered, there are potentially millions more just lying around in Kansas and other states with Cretaceous soils exposed. If any of you ever go to the Midwest US for vacation, ask permission, and look for shark teeth! I would say look for some in a souvenir shop, but apparently there was a big to-do about selling fossils in the last 20 years or so in Kansas and the likelihood of finding genuine fossil teeth for sale is minimal at best. That just means, with the landowner's permission, you have to do the work yourself if you want genuine Cretoxyrhina teeth for your personal collection; again, some people frown on personal collections of fossils, I am pretty much neutral on the subject however.

1 comment:

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