We have all seen the claims of fossil dealers and sellers on the auction sites of their particular megalodon tooth being "Perfect", "Pristine", "Immaculate", "Museum Quality".
The tooth in this photo below certainly is not the perfect megalodon tooth. The most charitable thing that can be said about this tooth is that it still retains the classic shark tooth shape. Most of the blade enamel, the tip, the bourrelet and much of the underlying dentin and root have been lost to the ravages of 12 million years.
What is there about a shark tooth that makes it "PERFECT" and how would we go about characterizing it? On this page we will discuss some of the 10 characteristics which define the quailty of a fossil tooth. 1.) Tip Condition
4.) Bourrelet (Yes, that's the correct way to spell it.)
Let's start at the tip. What makes a "perfect" tip? Certainly not the one in the photo below. The tip on this tooth was lost as the megalodon crunched into whale or porpoise bone while feeding.
The tips in the next 2 photographs are sharp and serrated. They have never been nicked or chipped and the serrations are not worn down due to tumbling about in a river. A megalodon tooth is shown on the left and a Great White on the right.
Speaking of serrations, what does "fully serrated" mean? Not the tooth in the photo below. This tooth's serrations were scraped off as the blade edge contacted prey animal bone. The large chip is due to feeding damage. After being washed out of matrix, the river currents finished the job by sanding down the remaining serrations and nicking the edge in several places by banging it into rocks. Many dealers sell teeth like this one and claim that they are "serrated".
Look at the blade edge below to understand the term "serrated". Under 60X power microscope, none of the serrations are nicked, missing or worn. The variations in the height and size are nature's way of showing that no two serrations are alike.
What about enamel? We see a lot of descriptions like "insignificant peel on the front". After a tooth was lost, it settled to the bottom of the ocean and was covered by sediment. For the first few years the dentin absorbed water and became swollen. This swelling process cracked the enamel coating and began to separate it from the underlying dentin. Some of the strips of enamel form an attachment to the surrounding matrix that is stronger than it's weakened (cementum) attachment to the underlying (fossilized) dentin and comes away with the matrix when the tooth and matrix are separated.
The tooth pictured below somehow avoided this process.
How important is the bourrelet? This enamel is particularly susceptible to being lost because it is thinner than the blade enamel and is over the area of maximum dentin swelling. The tooth in the photo below has suffered the partial loss of this enamel and some of the blade enamel as well.
The tooth pictured below has a complete display side bourrelet. Note that there is only light cracking of the enamel and no separation of the bourrelet enamel from the blade enamel.
Finally the root. The one pictured below has lost part of the back of the right hand lobe and has considerable dehydration stress cracking.
The roots on these 2 teeth have not cracked or lost any part to the fossilization process.
Is there such a thing as a "Perfect", "Pristine", "Immaculate" or "Museum Quality" megalodon tooth? Museums do not have the funds to buy high quality teeth. When you see the term "Museum Quality", it will generally mean an average quality tooth. THE "PERFECT", "PRISTINE" OR "IMMACULATE" TOOTH DOES NOT EXIST. Nothing makes it through 360 to 2 million years with absolutely no damage. We like the phrase "Without Major Defect". The highest quality tooth we have in our private collection is pictured below. It certainly is not "PERFECT" but it may be the closest we ever get. One thing is for sure. You will never see anything like it on Ebay.
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