A lot of people may not be aware that sharks actually do not have any bones. Their skeletons are made of cartilage, a flexible connective tissue. Hence, what are left of sharks when they die are their teeth. A lot of these shark teeth have either settled on the ocean floor or washed offshore. They do not simply serve as souvenirs (there are people who consider shark-tooth collecting as a hobby) as they are also fossils which are vital for scientists to study and understand how sharks have evolved through the years. In case you didn’t know, sharks have been around for approximately 400 million years.
Sharks have numerous rows of teeth (about five) behind the functional rows which are the front set. Every time a tooth from the functional set falls of, they are replaced by the teeth found on the next row. Shark teeth are constantly replaced over time. Thus, sharks produce quite a significant amount of teeth over their lifetime. However, their teeth aren’t replaced very often in cold temperatures since sharks do not eat much in the cold. Sharks do not use their teeth for chewing food, instead they use them to rip apart large prey so that it will be easier for them to swallow their food.
With 470 species of sharks, their teeth also come as varied. Meat eaters have teeth that are sharp and serrated (saw-like) just like the great white and hammerhead sharks. For sharks that are fond of preying on fish, such as the mako shark, they have long, sharp and thin teeth that allow them to easily catch and grip slippery fish. Whale and basking sharks, which are known as filter-feeders due to how they filter water through their gills as part of their eating habit, have teeth that are small and do not have much use. Moreover, did you know that the megalodon, a prehistoric shark, have the largest teeth in the shark populace? These ancient beasts have teeth that can reach up to 7.1 inches in length! They can grow up to 60 feet and these prehistoric giants certainly make a group of great white sharks look like a school of sardines.
In a beach town called Venice found off Florida’s coast, there is an annual event called the Venice Shark Tooth Festival. A lot of collectors and enthusiasts find themselves gathered at the city referred to as the “Shark’s Tooth Capital of the World” every year for various festivities. Of course, the highlight of the event is the showcasing of these relics. You can learn more about this festival through their website.