Prehistoric shark teeth from a Megalodon, or "Meg" for fans of the shark, have been washing up on the shores of North Carolina due to high tides and recent storms.
Recently, a beachgoer named Denny Bland discovered a Megalodon shark tooth at the North Topsail Beach.
"Oh my God, like I said, I felt like I was a lottery winner or something," said Bland. "It's like I'm the first one to touch that since it fell out of his mouth back in the day."
Cynthia Crane, an expert from the Aurora Fossil Museum in the state, explained that Megalodon sharks were once the largest sharks ever to live. The shark had once roamed the ancient oceans during the Miocene-Pliocene period which was about 15 million to 5 million years ago, she said.
Crane also said that when people discover fossils, it helps the museum record the past and paleontology of North Carolina.
Some of the Megalodon shark teeth were the size of an adult hand. The Megalodon shark tooth that Bland found was six inches long.
Experts said that if we compared modern sharks to the length of their teeth, they could estimate that every inch of a shark's tooth is equal to 10 feet of its body. Therefore, the shark who owned the discovered tooth was possibly around 60 feet long or 720 inches. Previous studies have estimated that Megalodon sharks used to grow up to 59 feet or 708 inches at most.
In a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2014, researchers from the University of Florida said that Megalodon sharks went extinct about 2.6 million years ago.
Catalina Pimiento, lead researcher from the university, said that the existence of filter feeder whales had become established at the time of the Megalodon's extinction.
In another study, Pimiento found that Megalodon sharks had grown continually for 14 million years, and that several factors may have contributed to their growth. She said that the climate during their time may have had produced the pattern of reproduction and that the abundance of their prey and competitors may have added to it as well.
Experts also say that Megalodon shark teeth were three times stronger than the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus rex. It had been a relatively long time before humans knew and understood the existence of Megalodon sharks, because they were first mistaken as Moon rocks. Pimiento's research has indeed shed a light in the understanding of these humungous predators.