Aspiring palaeontologist discovers shark tooth that's millions of years old while scouring beach
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Molly Sampson has uncovered more than 400 teeth in her short time on this planet, but her recent discovery is her most impressive by far.
Her mother, Alicia, told the Daily Mail that her daughter had gone searching for fossils in the waters of Chesapeake Bay on Christmas day.
The young girl stumbled on an ancient tooth once belonging to a 50-foot-long megalodon shark that existed more than 2.6 million years ago.
“My husband has looked for them his entire life! We've always lived close to the bay so all of our kids have done it since they were little," Alicia told the outlet.
The mum explained to The Washington Post that Molly has been out searching for shark teeth since she could walk.
Her mother wasn’t there that day at the beach; however, a gleeful Molly shared the news once she returned home.
She added: “This is something she's always wanted to find.
“Molly is a super shy kid, so she isn't one to like the spotlight, but she also knows it's more about this amazing tooth.”
Alicia also revealed in a Facebook post that Molly had asked for insulated waders so she could go searching like real professionals.
She wrote: “I’m pretty sure Molly is feeling like this is the best Christmas ever.
"Her and Natalie asked for insulated waders to go sharktooth hunting like professionals…. then of course, [the] first thing they do is put them on and go out hunting. Look at the size of the tooth Molly just found.”
While tackling its prey, the shark could open its mouth, approximately 2.7 by 3.4 meters long, easily swallowing two adult humans.
The tooth has since been transported to the Calvert Marine Museum, which confirmed the fossil's identity.
According to the Daily Mail, after handing in her fossil, Molly now has access to the museum’s palaeontology department anytime she wants.
Scientists have yet to complete the megalodon’s skeleton and are unaware of what the extinct shark looked like roughly 15 to 3.6 million years ago.
Last year, doctoral candidate in the Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology at the University of California, Phillip Sternes, told Live Science: "In all honesty, until we have skeletal remains of megalodon, science does not know what the shark actually looked like.”
However, Sternes believes ‘it could very well have looked like any of the 15 living lamniform species. I still say those are a good source for inspiration and possibilities.’