American Oceans

Shark Teeth Facts: Everything You Need to Know

Shark teeth are fascinating and unique. They are not like human teeth at all. Sharks have a mouthful of sharp, serrated blades that they use to tear through the flesh of their prey.

shark teeth up close

The five rows of these razor-sharp teeth may be utilized at any time. Some sharks may even eat while swimming by repeatedly opening and closing their jaws.

Shark teeth are not actually teeth. They are made of a hard, durable material called dentin, which is similar to bone, and covered in enamel.

Sharks continually shed their teeth throughout their lifetime and can grow up to 50,000 teeth in their lifetime. Unlike human teeth, shark teeth are layered, meaning that the newer teeth grow in behind the old.

They can have up to as many as 15 rows of teeth or as few as two to three. Interestingly, the size of the teeth can be determined by the sex of the shark. Female sharks tend to have larger teeth due to the increase in overall body size.

Shark teeth have been around for millions of years and have been found in fossils dating back to the Paleozoic era. These fossils are valuable tools for scientists to study the evolution of sharks and their teeth.

Scientists can use the size and shape of the teeth to determine the age and species of the shark. Some shark teeth fossils have been found to be over 400 million years old, making them some of the oldest vertebrate fossils on Earth.

Types of Shark Teeth

Sharks have been around for millions of years, and their teeth have evolved to suit their specific feeding habits. There are four main types of shark teeth, each with its own unique shape and purpose.

Attack great white shark

Great White Shark Teeth

The Great White Shark is one of the most well-known shark species, and its teeth are just as famous. Great White Sharks have rows of teeth that are constantly replaced throughout their lifetime. These teeth are triangular and serrated, which allows them to easily tear through their prey.

Megalodon Teeth

Megalodon was a prehistoric shark that lived millions of years ago. Its teeth were much larger than those of the Great White Shark, with some reaching over 7 inches in length. Megalodon teeth are triangular with serrated edges, and they were used to crush the bones of their prey.

Bull Shark Teeth

Bull Sharks are known for their aggressive behavior and their ability to survive in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Their teeth are unique in that they have needle-like teeth in the front of their mouth for grabbing onto prey, and dense flattened teeth in the back of their mouth for crushing and grinding.

Shark teeth are fascinating and have many unique features that make them perfectly suited for their specific feeding habits.

Whether it’s rows of teeth, triangular upper teeth, needle-like teeth, dense flattened teeth, or serrations, each type of shark tooth has its own unique purpose and design.

Fossilization of Shark Teeth

Fossilized Shark Teeth

Shark teeth are one of the most common and easily recognizable shark fossils. Fossilized shark teeth are usually found in sedimentary rocks, such as limestone, sandstone, and shale.

stack of big and small colorful shark teeth

They can also be found in river beds, sand pits, and beaches. Fossilized shark teeth are often black, gray, or tan in color, due to the absorption of surrounding minerals.

Most fossilized shark teeth are from the upper Cretaceous and Tertiary periods, which date back to about 65 to 2.6 million years ago.

However, some specimens can be even older, such as those found in local creeks in Gainesville, which are about 18-20 million years old.

Fossilization Process

The process of fossilization begins when a shark dies and its teeth fall out or are shed. The teeth then become buried in sediment, which helps to protect them from physical and chemical weathering.

Over time, the sediment becomes compacted and turns into sedimentary rock.

As the teeth become buried, they are exposed to minerals, bacteria, and oxygen in the surrounding sediment. The minerals, such as calcium carbonate, can replace the original tooth material and create a fossilized replica of the tooth.

Bacteria can also play a role in the fossilization process by breaking down the organic material in the tooth and leaving behind a mineralized mold.

The fossilization process can take thousands or even millions of years to complete, depending on the conditions of the surrounding sediment. The longer the teeth are buried, the more likely they are to become fossilized.

Shark Teeth Size and Shape

Shark teeth come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the species of shark.

The size and shape of shark teeth are adapted to the specific feeding habits of each species. In general, sharks have multiple rows of teeth that are constantly replaced throughout their lifetime.

Great White Shark Teeth Size and Shape

Great white sharks are known for their large, serrated teeth that are designed to tear through the flesh of their prey. The teeth of a great white shark can range in size from 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.4 cm) in length.

The teeth are triangular in shape with serrated edges that help the shark to grip and tear its prey. Great white sharks have up to 300 teeth in multiple rows that are constantly replaced throughout their lifetime.

Whale Shark Teeth Size and Shape

Whale sharks, on the other hand, have small, non-functional teeth that are not used for feeding. Instead, the whale shark feeds by filtering plankton and small fish through its gills.

The teeth of a whale shark are tiny and numerous, with up to 300 rows of teeth in each jaw. The teeth are less than 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) in length and are shaped like tiny, flattened cones.

In general, shark teeth can be divided into four categories: flattened dense, needle-like, pointed lower with triangular upper, and useless.

The teeth of a shark are used for different purposes depending on their shape and size. The most popular type, needle-like sharp points, can be seen in many kinds throughout this animal’s range.

It is important to note that the size and shape of shark teeth can vary greatly even within the same species. Factors such as age, sex, and diet can all affect the size and shape of a shark’s teeth. Additionally, different species of sharks have different feeding habits, which can also affect the size and shape of their teeth.

Shark Teeth Adaptations

Sharks have been around for over 400 million years and have evolved a variety of adaptations to help them survive in their environment. One of the most notable adaptations is their teeth.

fossilized shark teeth

Sharks have multiple rows of teeth that are constantly replaced throughout their lifetime. These teeth are specialized for hunting and feeding, allowing sharks to efficiently capture and consume their prey.

Adaptations for Hunting

Sharks are apex predators, meaning they are at the top of the food chain. To successfully hunt their prey, sharks have developed a variety of adaptations.

Some sharks have dense flattened teeth that are ideal for crushing hard-shelled prey, such as crustaceans and mollusks. Other sharks have needle-like teeth that are perfect for piercing and gripping slippery prey, such as fish and squid.

Sharks also have rows of teeth that act like a conveyor belt. As the front teeth wear down or fall out, new teeth move forward to replace them. This allows sharks to always have a fresh set of teeth ready for hunting.

Adaptations for Feeding

Once sharks have captured their prey, they need to consume it efficiently.

Some sharks have pointed lower teeth and triangular upper teeth that are ideal for cutting and tearing through flesh. This is especially useful for larger prey, such as rays, dolphins, and sea lions.

Other sharks have adapted their teeth for feeding on smaller prey, such as krill and small fish. These sharks have teeth that are designed to filter out the small organisms from the water.

Rare Shark Teeth

Shark teeth are fascinating and valuable finds for collectors and enthusiasts alike. While some species of sharks have teeth that are more commonly found, others have teeth that are considered rare. Here are some of the rare shark teeth that are sought after by collectors.

Basking Shark Teeth

The basking shark is the second-largest fish in the world, and its teeth are considered rare finds due to the shark’s filter-feeding habits.

Basking sharks have small, pointed teeth that are not used for biting or tearing prey. Instead, they use their gill rakers to filter plankton and small fish from the water. Because of this, basking shark teeth are not commonly found and are highly sought after by collectors.

Angel Shark Teeth

Angel sharks are a type of shark that is known for their flat, wide bodies and unique hunting style.

Unlike most sharks, which rely on speed and agility to catch their prey, angel sharks lie in wait on the ocean floor and ambush their prey. Their teeth are flat and wide, with serrated edges that allow them to crush the shells of their prey. Angel shark teeth are rare finds due to the shark’s declining population and habitat loss.

Uses of Shark Teeth

Shark teeth have been used for various purposes throughout history. In this section, we will explore some of the most common uses of shark teeth.

Tongue Stones

Shark teeth have long been used as a cure for various ailments. In the Middle Ages, they were believed to be “tongue stones” that could cure speech impediments and other problems with the mouth. Some people also believed that they could cure stomach ailments and other internal problems.


Shark teeth have also been used in various technologies. For example, they have been used to create cutting tools, such as knives and saws. They have also been used in jewelry and other decorative items. In addition, shark teeth have been used in the manufacture of certain types of fishing gear, such as hooks and lures.


Shark teeth can also be quite valuable. Fossilized shark teeth, in particular, are highly sought after by collectors and can fetch high prices at auctions. Some collectors specialize in finding rare and unusual shark teeth, such as those from extinct species like the megalodon.

In conclusion, shark teeth have been used for a variety of purposes throughout history, from curing ailments to creating cutting tools. They are also highly valued by collectors and can fetch high prices at auctions.

Add comment