|There is a reason that Venice, Florida is known as the Shark Tooth Capital of the World. It is one of the best places in the world to search for fossilized sharks' teeth.
Sharks actually shed their teeth and grow new ones, and may shed thousands of teeth in their lifetime. Thousands of these specimens wash up onto the sandy Venice Beaches. When sharks die and decompose, the teeth are the only remnants as the remainder of the shark decomposes completely, even its skeleton which is made of cartilage, not bone.
Walking on the beach and searching for shark teeth is a relaxing and interesting pastime. Children of all ages have a natural interest in science and this is a wonderful way for adults and children to enjoy the beach together. It is easy to search for shark teeth, and with just a few bits of information, you can turn your walk on the beach into an exploration of archeology.
Children of all ages have a natural interest in science. Searching for shark teeth is a wonderful way for adults and children to enjoy the beach together.How to Hunt for Shark Teeth
Low tide is the best time to search for these fossils. As the waters recede, the gathering of small stones, shells and sediment can often be a treasure trove of shark teeth as well. The area called the “wash in” is the 6-12 inch drop off where the waves recede. After a storm, the chances are greater that specimens have washed in. You might also try snorkeling in shallow water and sifting through the sand. The equipment required is very simple: a small shovel or a sieve to sort through the sand and a bag to carry your finds.
Identifying Your Finds
Once you have found some shark teeth, use a guide to identify the shark from which it came. The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Department of Paleobiology offers an excellent source for identifying your find. http://paleobiology.si.edu/pdfs/sharktoothKey.pdf . This scientific paper shows all sharks teeth specimens. For the layperson, however, an easy reference guide is offered by Mote Marine for $6.98. It can be purchased online by clicking here.
The Shark Tooth Festival
In April of every year, the Sharks Tooth Festival takes place in Venice. Fossil hunters display their finds of sharks teeth and other fossils. This is an opportunity to view specimens, learn more about the history of and biology of the sharks. Over a 100 artists display original works, food vendors serve up seafood and other selections and live music creates a festive backdrop. All of the proceeds go to The Special Olympics of Sarasota County.
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