On a beach in Maryland, a 9-year-old girl on a “shark tooth hunt” finds an old megalodon tooth

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

A 9-year-old girl in Maryland got a special gift for Christmas, but it wasn’t what she thought it would be. Instead, it was an old fossil from the ocean floor. Molly Sampson found a tooth from the megalodon shark, which is now extinct, when she waded into knee-deep water. According to a Facebook post by their mother, Alicia Sampson, Molly and Natalie Sampson 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 that the tooth Molly found was 5 inches long and as big as her hand. Sampson said that it was only about 10 degrees outside, but that the low tide made it a great day to look for fossils. Molly, who was nine years old, was very happy. On the way there, she said, “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 took the tooth to the Calvert Marine Museum, where the artifact was identified and the exciting news about the “future paleontologist” was posted on Facebook. Molly took her find to the paleontology section of the museum, but she can still keep it for herself, the museum said. She also said that Sampson’s husband, Bruce, has dreamed his whole life of finding a huge tooth while fossil hunting near Chesapeake Bay. But he couldn’t get one until his daughter told him about it. Sampson said, “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.” 

Stephen Godfrey, curator of paleontology at the Calvert Marine Museum, told CBS News that the tooth came from the extinct Otodus megalodon shark, which was  “one of the largest, if not the largest marine macropredator the world has ever known,” Godfrey said that the tooth came from the left side of the shark’s upper jaw. He knew this because the tooth’s root was so big. The Australian Museum thinks this species lived between 23 and 3.6 million years ago and could grow up to 66 feet long, which is about three times as long as a great white shark. Scientists made the first 3-D model of the huge shark last year, according to Science Advances. Researchers found that the Megalodon could eat food the size of today’s top predators and move faster than any shark species. It could also swallow food whole. They said that the shark was a “transoceanic superpredator”.

Molly, who wants to become a paleontologist, might spend “hours” looking for fossils, according to her mother. She likes to look at all fossils, not 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 said, “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!”