While finding shark teeth on the beach isn’t uncommon, one 7-year-old boy vacationing in North Myrtle Beach was surprised to find a massive megalodon tooth, an artifact from the largest shark ever to exist.
Foster Frazier, a Virginia native, was vacationing with his family back in June when he found a megalodon tooth estimated to be over 5 inches long while digging along a stream on the beach.
“His father, myself, and his younger brother were downstream from him at the time and heard him yelling what he'd found and saw him holding it up,” said Tina Frazier, Foster’s mother. “We were speechless,” she added.
Megalodon, literally meaning “giant tooth,” refers to the extinct shark Carcharocles megalodon which was estimated to be around 50 to 59 feet long, according to Daniel Abel, a marine science professor at Coastal Carolina University. That’s over three times larger than the average adult female Great White Shark, which typically grow to be 15 to 16 feet long.
“We didn't pay much attention because we were downstream a bit and it looked like [Foster] was just holding a large sand covered rock, however, as he reached down to wash it off we realized he'd definitely found a treasure,” Tina said. “He was knocking sand off the sides of the stream when he said it was sticking out of the side of the bank. To say he was excited is an understatement.”
It’s difficult to estimate how old the tooth Foster found is because “you would need to know the age of the deposit in which the tooth was found in,” Abel said. In Foster’s case, the age of the sand that covered the tooth would’ve had to be determined in order to know how old the tooth is.
However, it’s safe to say the huge tooth is millions of years old. According to Abel, megalodons lived from around 23 million to 2.6 million years ago. It’s believed they became extinct when the oceans cooled during the Pliocene Epoch.
“Megalodon prospered in warmer waters, and likely could not tolerate the reduced temperatures,” Abel said. “Its close relative, but not direct descendant, the Great White Shark, has adapted to live in cool waters and thus survived the cooling.”
Tina says Foster has his “treasure” proudly displayed on a shelf in his room and wants to be a scuba diver when he grows up.
“Foster has always loved sharks, every book he reads is about sharks, every shirt he wears has a shark in it, and he has always told us he was going to find a megalodon tooth one day,” Tina said. “We have always told him that he'd have to get older and scuba dive to find a tooth like that, however, he said God would help him know where to look and he must have been right.”
Michaela Broyles, 843-626-0281, @MichaelaBroyles