FOSSIL SNAGGLE TOOTH SHARK (HEMIPRISTIS) TEETH FOR SALE
When Did Hemipristis Sharks Live?
There are multiple extinct species of Hemipristis sharks and one extant species within this genus. Hemipristis curvatus is the earliest extinct species which lived during the Eocene (55.8-33.8 mya). It was then followed by Hemipristis serra, which lived through the Oligocene-Miocene (33.9-5.2 mya). When the Pliocene (5.3 to 2.6 mya) approached, H. elongata arose, a smaller version of the massive H. serra. This species is still living to this day.
Where Did Hemipristis Live?
Giant snaggletooth sharks terrorized the Atlantic Ocean during the Tertiary and were considerably larger than their modern relatives, attaining lengths of up to 7 meters. Given their range, many fossil teeth are collected in Florida, South Carolina, and other areas along the Atlantic coast. Hemipristis sharks preferred warm water and as the temperature of the oceans cooled with the approach of the Pliocene, H. serra retreated from northern latitudes before becoming extinct, giving way to H. elongata, which currently inhabits the warmer southern oceans, sharply decreasing their once near-global range.
What Makes Hemipristis Teeth Special?
Hemipristis teeth are coveted for their exotic shape and beautiful color. Teeth from the southern Atlantic Coast are especially prized, displaying lighter coloration that highlights the serrations. Hemipristis’ morbid grin was an instrument of death. These sharks would hook and slice prey using two distinct types of teeth. The broad, triangular, highly serrated teeth of the upper jaw act like steak knives, sawing through prey with ease. Their bottom teeth have a sharp point that serve as forks, spearing prey and holding it in place while the top teeth go to work. Both top and bottom teeth have a large protuberance on the labial face of the root. The bottom teeth look more like those of a Sand Tiger shark than what would be expected from Hemipristis and when these teeth were initially dug up, collectors didn’t recognize that both forms of teeth were from the same shark.
What Did Hemipristis Eat?
Hemipristis sharks ate a variety of marine animals including bony fish, crustaceans, and other sharks. Marks made by the teeth of the now extinct H. serra are often found on the bones of the manatee, Metaxytherium, suggesting that H. serra had an affinity for ancient sirenians (Sea Cows). Understanding this proclivity, it is possible to assume that their serrated teeth could make short work of any prey they chose.
In 2014, a man in Maryland was digging the foundation for an addition to his house when he accidentally stumbled upon the most complete skeleton of H. serra to date. This specimen was estimated to have been around 10 feet in length, though only a partial spinal column was found. The jaw was in very good shape and even had some preserved cartilage fossilized where the upper and lower jaws meet.