As part of our 2021 Fossil Shark Week celebration, we included an exhibit with jaws of modern sharks. The jaws show how many teeth these sharks had when they were alive, and how the sharks were always growing new teeth to replace old teeth that broke off or fell out.
The jaws are locked safely inside a glass aquarium, so they cannot bite you. (Yes, shark teeth are so shark that they can still bite even after their owner has died!)
There are two Bull Shark jaws. The larger Bull Shark jaw is facing the front of the exhibit, showing the view you would have if the shark was about to bite you. The smaller Bull Shark jaw, displayed inside the larger jaw, is facing the back of the exhibit, showing the view you would have if you were inside the shark. The smallest shark jaw is from a Sand Shark, which had very different teeth than Bull Sharks.
There is a magnifier placed so you can get a closer look at the teeth inside the smaller Bull Shark’s mouth. This view shows how sharks are always growing new teeth to replace the old ones.
We also included a model of a modern Great White Shark, produced by 4D Vision. Since shark bodies are rarely preserved in the fossil record, scientists study modern sharks to make inferences about the skeletons and soft parts of ancient sharks.
This chart, from 4D Vision, labels the many parts of a modern Great White Shark’s body.
The teeth in our Open-at-Home Bags are fairly small, but some ancient sharks grew really big! The fossil tooth in the exhibit case is from Otodus, one of the largest sharks alive near the end of dinosaur times. The largest shark of all time was Megalodon, which lived about 20 million years ago. (This is the same age as the fossils in the Fossil Hunt and Microfossil Hunt Open-at-Home Bags.)