How to find shark teeth with your kids

These tips will help take your family on an oceanic treasure hunt.

Kids are fascinated by sharks. Although they aren’t likely to come face-to-face with one of their favorite animals in the wild, they can touch these animals—without even getting wet. Your family can find shark teeth, both fossilized and modern, on beaches, riversides, and even certain landlocked spots. Here’s how to help find their own toothy treasures.

Sharks have been losing their teeth for over 400 million years—long before dinosaurs walked Earth’s surface. Although a shark skeleton rarely fossilizes—the soft cartilage that gives their bodies structure breaks down too fast—tooth fossils are common. Like human teeth, shark chompers are made of superhard calcium phosphate, a material that lasts long enough to allow minerals to replace all the organic material of the tooth, creating a fossil.

And sharks have a lot of teeth to lose. Depending on the species, the fish can have hundreds or even thousands of teeth at a time that they’re constantly losing, breaking, or dulling as they grab and eat prey. Estimates vary, but depending on species, age, diet, and other factors, a shark could lose 20,000 to 50,000 teeth over a lifetime, according to marine biologist Jillian Morris.

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