A "Quick & Dirty" Guide to

Recent Shark Teeth

Sixgill Shark Hexanchus griseus

  • lower anterior teeth comb-like, each with an elongated base and multiple cusps
  • bases of lower teeth thin and lacy
  • upper teeth spike- or hook-like
  • basses of upper teeth knob-like

Among the most fascinating of modern shark teeth; all hexanchiform sharks show pronounced sexual dimorphism in the anterior lower teeth, with mature males having an initial cusp much higher than subsequent ones.

Sandtiger Shark Carcharias taurus

  • long, slender, smooth-edged blade
  • small, secondary cusplet on either side of main blade
  • strongly bilobed root
  • large lingual protruberance (bulge) and nutrient groove at center of root

Specimens from southeastern Australia have consistently stouter dentition, leading to speculation that the Aussie Grey Nurse Shark is a distinct species or sub-species.

White Shark Carcharodon carcharias

  • broadly triangular, flattened, coarsely serrated blades
  • serrae are irregular in size and spacing, a feature which helps distinguish teeth of this species from triangular and serrated toothed whaler sharks, such as the Oceanic Whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus)
  • narrow scar separating blade from root
  • strongly bilobed root, especially in anterior lower teeth

The most famous of all shark teeth, those from a large White Shark can command significant prices a fact which renders this relatively uncommon species a target for trophy hunters.

Shortfin Mako Isurus oxyrinchus

  • anterior upper teeth slender, knife-like and unsaerrated
  • anterior lower teeth slender, recurved, and unserrated
  • narrow scar separating blade from root
  • strongly bilobed root, especially in anterior lower teeth

Teeth of this species were once used as currency by New Zealand Moaris; the Shortfin Mao is considered the premiere gamefish among sharks.

Tiger Sharks Galeocerdo cuvier

  • deeply-notched, flattened blade with strong serrations at shoulders of blade, especially on inner margin
  • main cusp smoothly curved
  • blade height about equal to root breadth
  • teeth alike in both jaws

One of the most beautifully-shaped of shark teeth; combines powerful puncturing capability (afforded by the deep primary notch) and efficient ripping (afforded by the large serrae on inner shoulder) "can opener" dentition is ideally suited to tearing through the tough carapace of sea turtles.

Bull Shark Carcharhinus leucas

  • broad, flattened, serrated blade tapering to narrow apex
  • serrations decreasing in size toward tip of blade
  • squared-off root

The teeth of various species of whaler (grey) sharks can be very difficult to distinguish; it is probably best to regard all identifications as highly provisional.

Lemon Shark Negaprion brevirostris

  • narrow, flattened, unserrated blade
  • blade erect to slightly oblique
  • squared-off root

Fossil teeth of this species are remarkably similar to the teeth from modern specimens.

Great Hammerhead Shark Sphyna mokarran

  • oblique, flattened blade with broad serrated shoulders tapering to narrow apex
  • serrations consistent in size from shoulders to tip of blade
  • squared-off root

The teeth of various species of hammerheads can be very difficult to distinguish; it is probably best to regard all identifications as highly provisional.


Fossil Teeth

 
 

ReefQuest Centre for Shark Research
Text and illustrations R. Aidan Martin
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