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Lot
49302

LARGE MEGA-SHARK JAW WITH FOSSIL TEETH. ...

2012 May 20 Natural History & Fine Minerals Signature Auction- New York #6068

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Auction Ended On: May 20, 2012
Item Activity: 2 Internet/mail/phone bidders
2,786 page views
Location: Center 548
548 W. 22nd St.
New York, NY 10011

Description:
LARGE MEGA-SHARK JAW WITH FOSSIL TEETH
Carcharocles (Carcharodon) megalodon
Miocene-Pliocene
Off Cape Fear, North Carolina, Atlantic Ocean
This immensely impressive reconstructed jaw of the fearsome Miocene Megalodon, is set with 138 painstakingly recovered teeth, carefully selected for size and quality. These teeth are generally all that remain to us of this mighty fish, which ruled the waters across the globe from approximately 28 to 1.5 million years ago; like other sharks, its skeleton was composed of cartilage, which rarely if ever survives in the fossil record. Even the teeth can be very difficult to recover: major localities are in the turbulent, zero-visibility waters off the Carolina estuaries, retrieved by dedicated, life-risking scuba divers. The size of this jaw gives some indication of the astonishing ancient creature's bulk; Megalodon could grow to over 50 feet in length, with the appearance of a stocky Great White Shark. This similarity to the Carcharodon carcharias has led to the Megalodon's taxonomic classification being mired in disagreement for over a century. Prior to the seventeenth century, these teeth were believed to be petrified dragons' tongues, but Danish naturalist Nicolaus Steno, in 1667, correctly identified them as shark's teeth. The scientific name was coined in 1835 by Louis Agassiz, based on the similarity between the teeth of the Megalodon and the Great White. Debate continues, however, as to whether it can be correctly grouped with the Great White in the Lamnidae family, or whether it belongs to the family of (entirely extinct) sharks, Otodontidae. What is beyond doubt, however, is that these were monstrous, highly effective predators, or terrific size. That reputation is immediately evoked by the huge jaw, 63 inches high by 76 inches wide. It represents one of only two jaws constructed with "deep water" teeth, found in only a few secret locations off the coast of North Carolina, and recovered at depths of over 100 feet by the Poseidon dive team. Unlike river-collected teeth, they can only be recovered by divers with Nitrox-mixed gas certification, and intensive deep-sea training. The teeth range from 1 to 5 inches in slant height and are arranged in three rows with correct upper and lower dentition where possible; many are presumed to be associated (from one individual) due to the large concentrations of teeth found on the ocean floor in close groupings.

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