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How do you identify shark teeth?

A:

Quick Answer

Shark teeth are identified by analyzing the size, shape and texture of a tooth. While most shark teeth are in the shape of a triangle, the length, width and sometimes the edges of a given tooth can be used to identify the species to which a tooth likely belonged.

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Full Answer

Shark's teeth are most likely found when tides are out. By the time a tooth has been washed to the shore, the color of the tooth is usually a pearly black. This color is likely to be the first characteristic that catches a collector's eye. Despite the variations among different types of shark's teeth, one can verify whether a found object is a shark's tooth by a triangular shape, smooth point and harsher bottom of the triangle. The rougher base is the part of the tooth that was previously within the gums of the shark. Most shark's teeth are about the size of a man's thumbnail.

Once an object is designated as a shark's tooth, a collector can correlate the tooth with a specific species. One of the most common types of teeth found on American beaches are from a sand shark. Teeth from a sand shark are long, with the smooth part of triangle comprising most of the tooth. The bottom, rougher base of the triangle of a sand shark's tooth is particularly curved, forming a "Y" type triangle. Teeth from a bull shark are also rather common on American beaches. A tooth from a bull shark is much wider and not very long. Less common are tiger shark teeth, which can be identified by how much larger the rougher base of the tooth is than the comparatively small tip of the tooth.

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