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Fossil_Rocks

Possible Associated Pair Of Megalodon Teeth ...‏

What are the chances this might be an associated pair, based upon their axial morphology, and information we have in the file now?  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Are these likely a pair, beyond a reasonable doubt?

    • I vote to convict the shark of biting off more than he could chew
      6
    • I vote he and his girlfriend dined together
      3
    • I vote that he dined with his twin
      5
  2. 2. Could a microscopic analysis reveal subtle similarities that are unpublished in the literature, because no one has bothered, cared, or needed to look in other known or suspected associated sets?

    • Yes
      1
    • No
      6
    • Maybe - please speculate on what that might be
      7


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Fossil_Rocks

Here's a treat for the troops.

These have been hidden from public and scientific view since they were acquired from the finder. I purchased them from a civil war relic hunter and collector, who claimed to have these found together, but he wouldn't divulge exactly where. I suspect coastal Charleston, north to possibly southern NC, based upon his distance of travel from the sale, which was the old Civil War Museum, located in downtown Myrtle Beach - Mid 90's.(A friend who worked there, alerted me of the seller's presence.) The owner also collected fossils and displayed these, so it was known as a place of trade and sale for both artifacts and fossils.

When I first saw them, I immediately recognized the possibility that they were a pair, and likely land finds, but what I didn't expect to discover, was their curious potential axial relationship.

Published relative axial ratios of known or suspected associated sets reveal similar math to what I've found in these

Both appear to be from the same side of the jaw, which makes a reasonable argument for how they may have literally, come together in the first place.

I've managed to contact one nationally recognized expert who seems intrigued.

Unfortunately, there's probably no DNA remaining, but if you've ever watched Forensic Files on TV, more than just DNA is often used to establish beyond a reasonable doubt.

I think this is also a good time for a poll, recognizing of course that you can't see these in person.

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post-15317-0-56988100-1405570160_thumb.jpg

post-15317-0-63927200-1405570177_thumb.jpg

Edited by Fossil_Rocks

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Auspex

They are nice specimens, but I am a bit wary of labeling them as 'associated' after the fact and without solid primary provenance.

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MarcoSr

Even if I personally found these two teeth in situ right next to each other I wouldn't be thinking associated unless there were a bunch more with them. What would cause a shark to drop two teeth from different file positions like this? What would be the odds of them winding up next to each other? Astronomical in my opinion unless the shark died and I would expect that there would be more teeth. With a feeding event, I would expect some prey evidence and wouldn't expect the teeth near each other at all unless the feeding event occurred on the ocean floor.

Marco Sr.

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fossilselachian

What are the chances of two teeth, irrespective of the environment in which they were lost, remaining in close proximity over a time period exceeding millions of years? Yes it happens under certain conditions like associated tooth sets found in phosphate mines but would seem almost impossible if found in a river. Even if large numbers of teeth are found on a river bottom, it would seem more likely the teeth had simply accumulated in a low spot as they tumbled along the bottom of the river. Just my 2 cents.

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Fossil_Rocks

It's theoretically possible but there are tons of teeth that look very similar from the same location. As a serious collector myself, I would not purchase them as a "pair" and pay any sort of premium, based on this sort of soft evidence. If a fossil hunter/diver of Megs found these two, and he could easily intentionally pair them or sell them together. Lots of people out there are trying to make a buck. It would be different if there was some sort of proof that they were perhaps found at the same time right next to each other. This sort of evidence would carry the most weight in my mind.

The finder seemed more interested in trading for civil war relics, which is what he told us he was looking for at the time he found them. I think he was using a metal detector, so he wasn't looking for teeth, he said. He also didn't have a clue these might be associated, nor did he ask for a premium; so there's no arguable reason not to believe his story that these were found adjacent to one another, at the same time. He was clearly clueless about potential association.

As a trained investigator, I interview a lot of witnesses in my line of work, and I believe this guy was telling the truth about how they were found.

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Fossil_Rocks

They are nice specimens, but I am a bit wary of labeling them as 'associated' after the fact and without solid primary provenance.

Associated specimens are found all the time, without divulging the precise location.

What are the chances of two teeth, irrespective of the environment in which they were lost, remaining in close proximity over a time period exceeding millions of years? Yes it happens under certain conditions like associated tooth sets found in phosphate mines but would seem almost impossible if found in a river. Even if large numbers of teeth are found on a river bottom, it would seem more likely the teeth had simply accumulated in a low spot as they tumbled along the bottom of the river. Just my 2 cents.

As I recall, the finder was using a metal detector when he found them, and these teeth don't look reworked. He wasn't a diver.

Edited by Fossil_Rocks

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RyanNREMTP

Unless they were still in the jaw...

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Megatooth Collector

So he dug to find these? That sounds a bit different. I was under the impression that almost all the teeth from the region were found by divers. Also,The premium I am referring to is what you are asking for them ;). Either way they are two nice specimens.

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fossilselachian

Associated specimens are found all the time, without divulging the precise location.

As I recall, the finder was using a metal detector when he found them, and these teeth don't look reworked. He wasn't a diver.

Associated as "together" sure, but how to prove they are from the same individual?

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fossilized6s

The only clear cut way to use the word "associated" with these would be 1. If they were found with jaw fragments or in the jaw. 2. In a matrix with other associated parts of the shark (cartilage, verts, etc.). Anything less is hearsay.

Just my $0.02

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megateeth

In the early 2000's I dove a new area looking for fossils. There were no bones anywhere but within a few square feet I found seven or eight Megalodon teeth max size was abour 4-1/4". They looked very much like they could have come from the same shark but there was just no way for me to verify it. I had a few people that knew more than I did about dentition look at them and they agreed they looked associated but once they were removed from their original location it was just my word that they were even found together. It is just way too bold a claim to make IMO in both your case and mine. If they were found on some kind of dig where they could have been verified then it would be a little easier to make that claim, but still too hard to verify to expect such a premium for them.

ETA Again in my case it was a river dive vs. land find but it is just the word of a guy that said he found them next to each other. Look at it this way. What is the chance that an artifact hunter would just stumble on two Meg teeth and no others and they just happened to be a rare associated set? Even if they were found exactly like he said the chances that they are associated is slim IMO.

Edited by megateeth

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Fossil_Rocks

So he dug to find these? That sounds a bit different. I was under the impression that almost all the teeth from the region were found by divers. Also,The premium I am referring to is what you are asking for them ;). Either way they are two nice specimens.

He didn't say he "dug" for them per se. All he would say is that he wasn't diving for them, and he looked for relics with a metal detector. I recall laughing a bit, thinking to myself about looking for sharks teeth using a metal detector, but of course that's not completely out of the realm of possibilities, given how many have metal in them, pyrite, hematite, etc. I've never attempted to see if any speciments in my collection will set off a metal detector, or any of my other teeth for that matter, but plenty have lots of iron in them.

What about anyone else here. Have you ever tried to see if any of your teeth will set off a metal detector? It could be an interesting experiment.

I haven't seem anything like them before, in terms of the texture of the root, except in land finds.

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Fossil_Rocks

Very well, I've heard the skeptics, but what are the odds of an axial relationship found in the same formation, with identical mineralization? Call it a chemical fingerprint. I would wager very slim, and I would also wager very hard to duplicate, even if you wanted to.

Keep in mind, mineralization is a lifelong interst of mine. I was a chem. major, and I've always been deeply fascinated with mineral replacement, as a chemical process.

So there's some science that I'm ahead of you on.

I'll give you an example. If a pathologist finds arsenic in the human body, does he argue that it needs to be found in the whole body to be evidence of a poisoning?

Think about it ...

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Auspex

The most that could be said with confidence is that both teeth are from the same species, are similar in size and shape, and were found near each other. Similar states of mineralization would be expected to occur if they came from the same sediment, whether or not they were from the same shark (even if they were deposited 10 years apart). Anything beyond that is pleasant speculation. :)

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fossilselachian

The most that could be said with confidence is that both teeth are from the same species, are similar in size and shape, and were found near each other. Similar states of mineralization would be expected to occur if they came from the same sediment, whether or not they were from the same shark (even if they were deposited 10 years apart). Anything beyond that is pleasant speculation. :)

Well stated!

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Megatooth Collector

Very well, I've heard the skeptics, but what are the odds of an axial relationship found in the same formation, with identical mineralization? Call it a chemical fingerprint. I would wager very slim, and I would also wager very hard to duplicate, even if you wanted to.

Keep in mind, mineralization is a lifelong interst of mine. I was a chem. major, and I've always been deeply fascinated with mineral replacement, as a chemical process.

So there's some science that I'm ahead of you on.

I'll give you an example. If a pathologist finds arsenic in the human

body, does he argue that it needs to be found in the whole body to be evidence of a poisoning?

Think about it ...

I am a Pathologist and not sure how that arsenic comparison really fits here. But regardless they are two nice Megalodon specimens and you should be proud to own them. Just may not expect everyone to buy into the idea that these are from the same shark, despite the similarities. Not to say it's impossible but just not something I would wager on.

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siteseer

The larger tooth shows some root damage and the smaller one has more enameloid peel than the larger one. That would indicate that these specimens have seen some post-mortem action apparently in each other's absence.

I have found two Isurus hastalis lower teeth next to each other in matrix. They might be from the same mouth but hastalis is a common shark in the layer I found them (Sharktooth Hill Bonebed, Bakersfield, CA) so I can't be sure. I have also found a fossil tiger shark tooth next to a mako and have dug out whale vertebrae with shark teeth pressed up against them.

You don't know where your teeth came from. In paleontology if you know nothing but where the fossil came from exactly (not just the spot on the map but the layer in the local stratigraphy), you can figure out what it is and have at least a ballpark for how old it is if it is complete enough. Without the site information you have coffee table curiosities that cannot serve as the basis of a scientific study - not publishable so your claim of a "nationally recognized expert" even seeming intrigued seems unlikely.

If I were you, I would consider the opinion of Megateeth who actually finds megalodon teeth in SC. There's some experience that he's ahead of you on.

Associated specimens are found all the time, without divulging the precise location.

As I recall, the finder was using a metal detector when he found them, and these teeth don't look reworked. He wasn't a diver.

Edited by siteseer

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painshill

... and you want $10,000 for them based on that "evidence"? I don't think so. Nice teeth, though.

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RyanNREMTP

Wait, what?

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JohnJ

... and you want $10,000 for them based on that "evidence"? I don't think so. Nice teeth, though.

Agreed.

Based on what has been posted, there is no definitive evidence that these teeth are from the same animal. To advertise, or suggest otherwise, based on hearsay and visual features is purely subjective.

Here's a treat for the troops.

These have been hidden from public and scientific view since they were acquired from the finder. I purchased them from a civil war relic hunter and collector, who claimed to have these found together, but he wouldn't divulge exactly where. I suspect coastal Charleston, north to possibly southern NC, based upon his distance of travel from the sale, which was the old Civil War Museum, located in downtown Myrtle Beach - Mid 90's.(A friend who worked there, alerted me of the seller's presence.) The owner also collected fossils and displayed these, so it was known as a place of trade and sale for both artifacts and fossils.

When I first saw them, I immediately recognized the possibility that they were a pair, and likely land finds, but what I didn't expect to discover, was their curious potential axial relationship.

Published relative axial ratios of known or suspected associated sets reveal similar math to what I've found in these

Both appear to be from the same side of the jaw, which makes a reasonable argument for how they may have literally, come together in the first place.

I've managed to contact one nationally recognized expert who seems intrigued.

Unfortunately, there's probably no DNA remaining, but if you've ever watched Forensic Files on TV, more than just DNA is often used to establish beyond a reasonable doubt.

I think this is also a good time for a poll, recognizing of course that you can't see these in person.

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Fossil_Rocks

... and you want $10,000 for them based on that "evidence"? I don't think so. Nice teeth, though.

I can't believe that I'm being outed.

A relationship is not just a left, right ratio; it's relative volume, relative bourlette size, relative width ... there are many things that could give us some good math.

The problem is, as far as I can gell, no one has calcuated the expected standard deviations of an associated set. Which tells me that no one has been looking for ways to associate teeth, beyond finding them in the same spot. So if the only criteria is finding them in the same spot, then that's pretty weak science, in and of itself. I would much rather use a standard deviation in relative measurements compared against random samplings from the same formation. I have a feeling that you would have a hard time finding two teeth that would fall within that deviation from the same area, unless they were related to one another.

If you add idential mineral replacement to an expected deviation, I think that would be pretty good science.

Surely the crowd here must be aware of the sensitivity of mass spectrometry. Mineral replacement is in itself a fingerprint.

Let's say you have a shark that had rickets, or the equivalent in sharks. Wouldn't we expect that fingerprint to carry over to the mineralization?

The answer is, mineral replacement happens on an atom by atom basis, and there are many factors involved, including temperature, pressure, the mineral soup that is present, composition of the host material, etc. It's similar to electrolysis. If something is missing in the host bone soup, something different should appear in the mineral replacement.

You could also determine a standard deviation between the minerlization of associated sets. However, I'm willing to bet that the odds of finding two teeth with identical mineralization are next to zero, UNLESS they are from the same animal. The girlfriend's teeth should be different, even if she drops a tooth right next to his, expecially if there's a defective condition in either.

I might be able to interest a graduate student in such a project, because we might learn far more than if these two teeth from the same animal.

Edited by Fossil_Rocks

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RyanNREMTP

That might make a good study for a marine biologist to conduct. I would believe you could get a better sample from extant sharks as a baseline before spending a lot of time on the fossils. By all means go for it. This actually interests me quite a bit.

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JohnJ

You bring up some interesting areas of potential research; but the range of variation in any of them could be too large to prove that unassociated teeth are from the same animal — even mass spectrometry. Mineralization can vary greatly in fossils of known association, thus increasing the range of variation within a single animal. My point is that unrelated teeth originating in the same formation may have chemical signatures which fall within the range of actual associated teeth, making it ineffective to determine association.

As mentioned, it is interesting potential research; however your two teeth have not been subject to that kind of study. So, it is not accurate to say they are associated in a paleontological sense. The wording, "associated teeth" implies they are from the same animal. You purchased two teeth that look very similar which you were told were found together. Without extensive additional research, that's about all that can be said of these teeth.

I hope you do find a grad student or someone to explore these ideas further.

I can't believe that I'm being outed.

A relationship is not just a left, right ratio; it's relative volume, relative bourlette size, relative width ... there are many things that could give us some good math.

The problem is, as far as I can gell, no one has calcuated the expected standard deviations of an associated set. Which tells me that no one has been looking for ways to associate teeth, beyond finding them in the same spot. So if the only criteria is finding them in the same spot, then that's pretty weak science, in and of itself. I would much rather use a standard deviation in relative measurements compared against random samplings from the same formation. I have a feeling that you would have a hard time finding two teeth that would fall within that deviation from the same area, unless they were related to one another.

If you add idential mineral replacement to an expected deviation, I think that would be pretty good science.

Surely the crowd here must be aware of the sensitivity of mass spectrometry. Mineral replacement is in itself a fingerprint.

Let's say you have a shark that had rickets, or the equivalent in sharks. Wouldn't we expect that fingerprint to carry over to the mineralization?

The answer is, mineral replacement happens on an atom by atom basis, and there are many factors involved, including temperature, pressure, the mineral soup that is present, composition of the host material, etc. It's similar to electrolysis. If something is missing in the host bone soup, something different should appear in the mineral replacement.

You could also determine a standard deviation between the minerlization of associated sets. However, I'm willing to bet that the odds of finding two teeth with identical mineralization are next to zero, UNLESS they are from the same animal. The girlfriend's teeth should be different, even if she drops a tooth right next to his, expecially if there's a defective condition in either.

I might be able to interest a graduate student in such a project, because we might learn far more than if these two teeth from the same animal.

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painshill

You're "willing to bet that the odds of finding two teeth with identical mineralization are next to zero [unless assocciated]" but you're asking a buyer to bet $10,000 that you're right!

Edited by painshill

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Auspex

Pursue your thesis; prove you're right with factual data that holds up under review by being replicable.

Until then, these are two shark's teeth from the same species, with hearsay provenance at that.

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