I Love Stories Like This

June 27, 2009 at 9:48 am | Posted in Finds | 1 Comment

441Scavenged on a New Hampshire beach: a 40 million-year-old tooth.

According to the Seacoast Online, “The woman who found a rare fossilized Great White shark tooth at Hampton Beach has decided to donate what she calls the ‘find of her lifetime’ to the University of New Hampshire.

“‘What was I going to do with it?’ asked 63-year-old Diann Barber, who lives on the beach. ‘It would just sit in a drawer and I would take it out every once and a while and say, Oh wow.’

“Hunt Howell of the Coastal Marine Laboratory at UNH accepted the donation of the tooth last week and told Barber the university will use it for educational purposes as well as keep it on display in the Rudman Biological Science Building….

“Barber called donating the tooth the end of an incredible journey. She found the fossilized shark tooth several months ago while searching for sea glass along the shore of Hampton Beach. What appeared to be an odd looking sea shell, she said, turned out to be a tooth of some kind.

“‘Something made me go back and pick it up,’ Barber said. ‘I didn’t know what it was. You find all kinds of things at the beach you never expect to see — beer tabs, cigarette butts, condoms….’

“After the find, her husband, Bill Levis, said his wife spent countless hours researching what kind of tooth it was…. David Bohaska at the Smithsonian aided in identifying the tooth by having Robert W. Purdy, a retired museum specialist, who is an expert on fossilized sharks, take a look at it.

“‘He confirmed that it is carcharodon carcharias, the Great White shark,’ Bohaska said. ‘Bob tells me that this species is known from the Miocene Epoch (about 15 million years ago) to the present.’

“Exactly how old it is and how it got to Hampton Beach is still the question. Bohaska said it’s hard to pinpoint the age of the tooth because Barber found it on the shore. If it was found encrusted in rocks or cliff, it would have been easier to pinpoint a rough time frame. In general it takes approximately 10,000 years for a tooth to become a true fossil, he said.

“Barber said she has enjoyed learning about sharks. ‘I called it doing my homework,’ Barber said. ‘It was really cool to learn about how long ago it existed and how large the animal was. I’m sad that it’s all over. I temporarily had it wrapped around my neck because it was kind of a spiritual thing because it is so old and rare…. This was a really cool journey that will be in my heart always. It was a unique experience in my life.’

“In return for her donation, Barber received a Wildcats sweatshirt and also a mug with a photo of the tooth that she found on it….

“Barber said she still walks the beach every day looking for her next find. ‘I doubt that I will find anything as cool as the shark tooth, but you never know…. There is always something to find at Hampton Beach…. Maybe there is another treasure waiting for me.'”

I love stories like this.

1 Comment »

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