Imagine strolling along the beach, feeling the sand between your toes and the breeze in your hair. You’re not just there for a leisurely walk; you’re on the lookout for treasures hidden among the shells and driftwood. Most often, beachcombers find common seashells, sea glass, driftwood, and every once in a while, a message in a bottle. It’s a fun pastime, especially when you stumble upon something unexpected instead of just discarded wrappers.
For some beach enthusiasts, the real excitement comes when they unearth fossils washed up on the shore. Fossil collecting isn’t just a hobby; it’s a way to connect with nature and explore the ancient history of our planet.
Instead of digging in dry earth like paleontologists in movies, you can simply stroll into the shallows with a sieve or even just your hands. Starting with preserved shark teeth makes fossil hunting accessible and affordable, especially since they’re often plentiful on public beaches.
While most finds are small, like finger-sized teeth, every now and then, collectors strike gold with a discovery like the Megalodon. These giant creatures ruled the seas during the Early Miocene to the Pliocene periods, millions of years ago. Their massive teeth, some several inches long, can still be found today, sending shivers down the spine of anyone who encounters them.
In Maryland’s Calvert Beach, incredible fossils reminiscent of the movie “Jaws” can be found. One Christmas morning, young Molly Sampson made a remarkable discovery while wading in the Chesapeake Bay.
According to Molly’s mother, Alicia Sampson, Molly had been eagerly searching for shark teeth since she was a little girl. So when she found a massive Megalodon tooth that morning, she was over the moon with joy. Molly had even asked for “shark-tooth hunting waders” for Christmas, and as soon as they arrived, the Sampson family headed out to search for treasures.
Molly’s elation was palpable as she described the moment she found the tooth. It felt like a dream come true. Rather than keeping her find to herself, she shared it with her local museum so it could be studied and enjoyed by others.
Stephen Godfrey, a curator at the Calvert Marine Museum, explained that while Megalodon teeth are not uncommon along the Calvert Cliffs, finding one as large as Molly’s is rare. The estimated age of the tooth? A staggering 15 million years.
The museum, thrilled with Molly’s discovery, shared it on social media and encouraged others to participate in their fossil identification program. With luck, Molly and many others will continue to enjoy the thrill of finding treasures on the beach for years to come.
Have you ever searched for shark teeth? Share your stories with us and encourage your fossil-loving friends and family to do the same!