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Fossil

Fossilized Teeth of the Megalodon Shark

by T. Mike Childs, NCpedia, 2013

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The jaws and teeth of a megalodon shark at the North Carolina Museum of Natural History. Image from Flickr user Ryan Somma.Session Law 2013-189, signed by governor Pat McCrory on June 26, 2013, gave North Carolina the following state symbols: state fossil, state frog, state salamander, state marsupial, state folk art, and state art medium.

Excerpt from Session Law 2013-189, House Bill 830:

Whereas, the megalodon shark is an extinct shark species that lived over 1.5 million years ago; and
Whereas, the megalodon shark may have reached over 40 feet in length and weighed up to 100 tons; and
Whereas, the megalodon shark had serrated, heart‑shaped teeth that may have grown to over seven inches in length; and
Whereas, fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark have been found in North Carolina and throughout the world...

§ 145-41.  State fossil.
The fossilized teeth of the megalodon shark is adopted as the official fossil of the State of North Carolina.

The bill was sponsored by Marilyn Avila (R-Wake), Susan Martin (R-Pitt, Wilson), Pat McElraft (R-Carteret, Jones), and Roger West (R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon). The idea for an official state fossil originated with an eighth grade science project at the Newport Middle School in Newport, N.C. Science teacher Donna Jones came up with the idea of having a competition in which students created displays for different fossils to select one to try and make the official state fossil. Students suggested sand dollars, starfish, coral, mosasaurs and sea urchins. The students voted on January 11, 2013 and selected the megalodon shark. Social studies teacher Gary Abell then contacted Rep. Pat McElraft, who adopted the idea and added it to House Bill 830, which proposed several new state symbols.

The extinct megalodon shark (Carcharodon megalodon) first appeared during the Neogene period of the Cenozoic Era, about 16 million years ago. It was bigger than a school bus, and their teeth can be as large as 6-7 inches long. Their fossilized teeth can be found on North Carolina beaches and off the coast.

Audio: 

Additional Resources:

Burke, Cheryl. "Newport students’ project leads to naming of state fossil." Carteret County News-Times. June 29, 2013. http://www.carolinacoastonline.com/news_times/news/article_4aaf2874-e0f9-11e2-94be-0019bb2963f4.html (accessed July 8, 2013).

Leslie, Laura. "Six new state symbols pass House."WRAL.com. May 6, 2013. http://www.wral.com/six-new-state-symbols-pass-house/12417604/ (accessed July 8, 2013).

DeSantis, Larisa R. G. Educators' Guide for Megalodon Largest Shark That Ever Lived. Gainesville, Fla.: Florida Museum of Natural History. 2007. http://www.mdwfp.com/media/127161/megalodon-guide.pdf (accessed July 8, 2013).

Than, Ker. "Ancient Giant Shark Had Strongest Bite Ever, Model Says." National Geographic News. August 5, 2008. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/08/080805-shark-bite.html (accessed July 8, 2013).

"Megalodon - Episode 1." Prehistoric Predators. National Geographic Channel. http://natgeotv.com/ca/prehistoric-predators/videos/prehistoric-predators-megalodon (accessed July 8, 2013).

Image Credits:

Somma, Ryan. "Ancestral Great White Shark Teeth." Photograph. January 1, 1980 [sic]. Flickr. http://www.flickr.com/photos/14405058@N08/2289004690/ (accessed July 8, 2013).

Megalodon: Largest Shark That Ever Lived. 0:15. YouTube video, posted by ncnaturalsciences, March 1, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cQj-JtnDZI (accessed July 8, 2013).

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