Megalodon Teeth

Megalodons once ruled the oceans!  In fact, they are thought to be the largest and most domineering predators in vertebrae history.  Their given name “Megalodon” appropriately translates to “big tooth” in Ancient Greek.  Though we can only guess about the habits and characteristics of these giant prehistoric beasts, their thousands of teeth give us some solid insight.

Tooth size and spare fossil remnants suggest that the Megalodon looked a little something like the modern Great White Shark (if it were 70 feet long weighing in at 100 tons).  Because they were primarily formed of hard cartilage, their fossils are few and far between.  Teeth are our primary means of knowledge and identification and are one of the oldest collectibles today for those who desire a glimpse into the past about 15.9 million years.

Like most collectibles, rarity comes with a pretty price tag.  There are several things to take into account when collecting these ginormous teeth:

Size matters.  Where two to five inch teeth are relatively common, teeth larger than five inches are highly desirable.  The size of a Megalodon tooth can offer insight into the size of the animal or what part of the mouth the tooth came from.  With about 276 teeth at a time, there’s a lot of variation in these chompers.  Teeth five to seven inches are extremely valuable, ranging in price from $500 for a 5 inch tooth, to over $1000 for a 7 inch one.

Megalodon tooth beside two Great White teeth

Megalodon tooth beside two Great White teeth

Oddly enough, the color of the tooth can help determine its value.  Fossilized teeth can take on any color since they absorb the sediments of their surroundings and therefore many of them are grey or black.  Color can be used to tell location of the Megalodon.  Blackish colored teeth are typically found in tidal rivers of the South Eastern United States, where larger quantities of phosphate exist.  Colorful teeth are more rare and therefore more valuable as collectibles.  Megalodons were resilient and able to live comfortably in a rage of temperatures.  Their mobility can be discovered in teeth scattered across the world.

Carcharocles_megalodon_tooth

Like pennies, Megalodon teeth have grades.  The condition of the tooth is essential in determining the price.  After millions of years, a complete root with intact enamel baring sharp serrated edges is an amazing find and is highly valuable.  Chipped teeth or ones with considerable damage are much more common and more difficult to gauge information from.

With such a range of around the world, Megalodon teeth can be purchased for anywhere from $20 to $30 and well into the thousands of dollars.  The most expensive one that sold on Ebay in recent months went for $5000.  Though quality and color are important to collectors, the Megalodon is well-known for its size, making that the most desirable characteristic in a brilliant tooth collection.  It is astounding to imagine such a massive creature and almost overwhelming to think of a ten-ton bite force when compared to the “puny 600 pound” bite of a lion.  Not often do humans get a tangibly accessible view into the past…way into the past.  Whether you’re a collector or simply an enthusiast of life, Megalodon teeth offer an age old perspective that surpasses our grasp of time, size and rationality.  The Megalodon, once the largest

animal in existence, left its mark on Earth.

Carcharodon_megalodon

Extinct Treasures | Ammonite

My very first time in the Stamp & Coin Etc. shop I remember being immediately overtaken by the aroma of old books as I wandered through the remnants of a world I’ve only experienced through old time movies.  Hundreds of varying vintage treasures from different time periods all over the world had found their way right into this historical building on the corner of a quaint Washington town.  The thought was simply magical.

My eyes scanned beautiful turquoise jewelry, ancient arrowheads and stones of all kinds before settling, mesmerized on a brilliant swirling fossil annotated “Ammonite”.

I ran my hands over cool, patterned stone feeling the history of a once-living organism which had somehow found its place in this collectors’ paradise, where lovely old things come to share their pasts like old friends.  Upon further research I found that this particular treasure had about 65 Million years on me: a life preserved in it’s polished fossil shell.

240 Million years ago, the ammonite made its appearance among the dinosaurs as a sort of prehistoric, carnivorous squid.  Part of the cephalopod family, they were predatory deep-sea creatures with sharp jaws hidden beneath air-siphoning tentacles.  Similarly to an old growth tree, ammonites grew outwardly in their shell, occupying the outermost coil.  Sexual dimorphism endowed females a macroconch, encouraging development up to 400% larger than males in order to accommodate egg production.

Variety of Ammonite Forms

Variety of Ammonite Forms

Serpentstones and Saligrams, these precious fossils have attained spiritual acclamation throughout history.  In medieval Europe ammonites, called “snakestones” were believed to provide evidence of the habitation of saints such as Saint Patrick and the mythical Hilda of Whitby in Sir Walter Scott’s Marmion.  Supposedly possessing healing powers, ammonites were traded as religious icons, often with a snake head painted or carved into the intricate pattern.  In Nepal, an ammonite is considered to be a “saligram”: a tangible manifestation of Vishnu.  Even the scientific name “ammonite” is derived from religious origins, as the shell resembling coiling ram’s horns alludes to the ram horn adorned Egyptian god Ammon.

Due to the ammonite’s ancient history and prevalence they make excellent index fossils, helping geologists determine rock layers of different geological time periods.  I didn’t expect to find something with such an age-old history that day.  I guess you never know what curious minds find.