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9-year-old girl on a ‘shark tooth hunt’ finds ancient megalodon tooth on Maryland beach

"She has always wanted to find a 'Meg,' but for whatever reason, she spoke it into existence on Christmas morning," her mother said.

9-year-old girl on a ‘shark tooth hunt’ finds ancient megalodon tooth on Maryland beach
Cover Image Source: Facebook / Calvert Marine Museum

A 9-year-old girl in Maryland received a special gift for Christmas, but it was nothing like she expected — it was an undersea old fossil. Molly Sampson discovered a tooth from the now-extinct megalodon shark after wading into knee-deep water. Molly and Natalie Sampson had asked for insulated waders for Christmas so they could "go sharks tooth hunting like professionals," according to her mother Alicia Sampson's Facebook post. That's exactly what they did as soon as they had the waders. According to Sampson, "Molly really wanted insulated chest waders for Christmas because she knew she was missing out on some good fossil finds further out in the water", reports CBS News.

Her mother said the tooth Molly found was 5 inches long and the size of her hand. Sampson said that the temperature outdoors was barely 10 degrees, but the low tide made it a very favorable day for fossil searching. The circumstances were ideal for nine-year-old Molly, who exclaimed, "I'm looking for a Meg!" on the way there. Sampson added, "She said she got her arms all wet, but it was so worth it. The look on her face is the only thing that makes me regret not going with them because I can't even imagine the shriek that came from her mouth."



The family brought the tooth to the Calvert Marine Museum, where they identified the relic and posted the thrilling information about the "future paleontologist" on Facebook. Molly brought her find to the museum's paleontology section, but she still gets to keep it for her own enjoyment, the museum said. Sampson's husband, Bruce, has spent his entire life dreaming about discovering a massive tooth while fossil-hunting in the region near Chesapeake Bay, she added. But he wasn't able to acquire one until his daughter discovered it. "Molly has found over 400 teeth in her 9 years, ranging from teeny tiny to an inch or two and now with this one, which is 5 inches," Sampson said. "She has always wanted to find a 'Meg,' but for whatever reason, she spoke it into existence on Christmas morning." 



The tooth belongs to the extinct Otodus megalodon shark species, which was "one of the largest, if not the largest marine macropredator the world has ever known," per Stephen Godfrey, curator of paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum, who spoke with CBS News. Godfrey said that the tooth is specifically from the left side of the shark's upper jaw, which is known due to the size of the tooth's root. The Australian Museum estimates that this species was alive between 23 and 3.6 million years ago and could reach lengths of more than 66 feet, or approximately three times that of a great white. The first 3-D model of the enormous shark was made by scientists last year, per Science Advances. The Megalodon was able to entirely swallow food the size of contemporary apex predators and travel at quicker absolute speeds than any shark species today, the researchers revealed. The shark was a "transoceanic superpredator," they said.



Molly, an aspiring paleontologist, might spend "hours" searching for fossils, her mother said, although she prefers to examine all fossils rather than just shark teeth. "She is really fascinated by them," her mom added. "She is also very good at the violin and said she may want to teach violin as I do for a living. So she might turn out to be a good mix of her father and if she can somehow do both," she further said.

Godfrey concluded by saying, "People should not get the impression that teeth like this one are common along Calvert Cliffs," adding that Molly found the tooth along a private beach. Godfrey added, "And she didn't have to dig into the cliffs to find the tooth (which could be dangerous) it was out in the water. Her find is wonderful because she has an interest in paleontology and this will propel her and others her age to explore the sciences!"

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