You’d think that for a diver who has been fossil-hunting for a decade — a time during which he has found many interesting items, including giant shark teeth — finding yet another would be old hat. But that’s not the case: earlier this month, one diver found the biggest prehistoric shark tooth yet, and he’s totally excited.
Michael Nastasio, the captain of Black Gold Fossil Charters, found a 6 and 1/16 inch megalodon shark tooth when he went diving Oct. 15 with one of his private charter groups in the Gulf of Mexico along the Venice, Florida, coast.
“Well after 10 years of hunting Venice for a whole 6-inch Megalodon shark tooth I did it,” Nastasio wrote on his personal Facebook page. “I was last one in the water and saw it within the first 5 minutes of my dive.”
He said he and (jokingly) his cat were cleaning the tooth and would show more photos later.
“I’m so happy right now and literally still shaking,” Nastasio added.
The megalodon, a giant, prehistoric shark (scientific name Otodus megalodon), lived between 23 million and 3.6 million years ago. Its name aptly translates to “big tooth.”
Only parts of the giant sharks’ vertebrae and teeth have been found because the rest of their bodies were made of soft tissue and cartilage that would have quickly disintegrated. But the teeth have helped scientists estimate that megalodons were probably between 50-65 feet long, just about two school bus lengths. That easily makes the megalodon the largest shark ever.
Below is an illustration of what it might have looked like.
Megalodon teeth aren’t entirely hard to find. Bodies of water in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida have been particularly fertile areas for teeth appearances. In fact, Venice, Florida, where Nastasio found his epic tooth, has even been nicknamed the “shark tooth capital of the world.” And people have found these prehistoric chompers on all the continents except Antarctica.
But the size of the tooth that Nastasio found — all 6-plus inches — is much rarer. Most megalodon teeth found are around 4 inches or less. A tooth that large is also harder to find in Venice compared to some other areas.
Earlier in 2021, Nastasio found a 5.875-inch “meg” tooth while scuba diving in the gulf. His thrilled reaction to that find went viral, so we can only imagine what screams he must have been making when he came across his 6-inch tooth.
You can see his reaction below, in this video from the i hunt dead things YouTube page.
Congratulations to the happy skipper!