We have a ton of fun in Florida but one activity tops our list by far. Almost to the point of obsession. Early morning, afternoons, even a few nights! We could be found scouring the beaches of Manasota Key hunting for fossilized shark's teeth. We never left the house without a sandwich baggie to hold our treasures. It was our favorite Florida fashion accessory.
It's surprisingly easy to find shark's teeth once you get "the eye" for it. They wash up on every beach along Manasota Key. From Englewood to Venice, we found a handful of teeth at every beach we visited. I even found one on the doggy beach!
Here's one I found just laying on the beach. You can see it's a different color. Teeth feel different too. They're very smooth. But you can't just go by color alone. There are little black stones & tons of black specks on the beach too. The black specks are tiny fragments of teeth that are so worn from the sea they resemble sunflower seeds. I look for the bottom of the tooth, where it fits into the gum. That's what would catch my eye. That little crook in the tooth was a dead giveaway.
We picked up a few shell scoops at the local beach shop to help us catch the teeth rolling around in the surf. They work well, if you want to carry them. I prefer to walk the beach with only a baggie in hand. I do wade a little, up to my knees, but that's about as far as I will go. (A little gal like me can be mistaken for bait in those waters!) I'm fine with being a chicken. I have the best luck just strolling the beach anyway.
Jason is a different story. We caught the shark's tooth bug last year & Jason has been dreaming about finding a Megalodon tooth ever since. It's possible. They find several in the area. So for his birthday last year, in anticipation of our Florida trip, I bought him a bathyscope to aid in his search. As you can see, it really helps in viewing the seabed. It can be a bugger to hold down in the waves though.
So, what did we find?
Back at the rental we would empty our baggies into a colander to rinse them. Then the fun began! Sorting through our treasures to see what goodies we had found. Between the two of us, we had several varieties of shark teeth, several pieces of fossilized bone, pretty shells, beach glass & hag stones.
We had several really exciting finds but they're all pretty amazing when you think about it. All of the shark's teeth & bone fragments are fossilized. They range in age from 10,000 years old to 75 million years old! Manasota Key is a barrier island that separates the Gulf of Mexico from the brackish waters of Lemon Bay. This area was once a shallow sea that served as breeding grounds for ancient sharks including the giant Megalodon.
We were told there is a shelf about 2 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico where divers find a lot of Megalodon teeth. Others hunt the rivers & creek beds that feed Lemon Bay. We also met a fossil hunter who claims his best finds are inland on construction sites. He had several large Meg teeth and a prehistoric bear claw to prove it.
Jason thought he had found another Megalodon tooth but after further inspection we decided it was fossilized bone. The bone fragments are most likely from marine mammals but it is possible some fragments may be human. Sea levels have changed over the millennia & now cover lands once occupied by Native peoples.
The photo on the right shows what just might be our best finds of the year. Any guess as to what they are? You may be surprised. I know I sure was. Those friends, are prehistoric equine teeth that have been fossilized. What?! Yes indeed. Prehistoric horses once roamed North America. I know, I know. I thought horses came over with the Spanish Conquistadors in the late 1400's to early 1500's too. The Spaniards re-introduced horses to the Americas long after prehistoric horses went extinct.
Working our way toward a mouthful of horse teeth!
Do we wish we were back in Florida hunting shark's teeth? You bet! But as we watch the snow fall in Northern Michigan, we have our collection of treasures to play with & wonderful memories of our fun at the beach to "tide" us over until next year.