A young girl received a ‘once-and-a-life’ Christmas gift when she stumbled upon a large megalodon tooth while combing a Maryland beach for fossils.
Molly Sampson, 9, asked her mother, Alicia Sampson, for a pair of insulated waders to stay warm in the 10-degree weather as she searched in the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.
Sampson told DailyMail.com that when her daughter left that morning, she said ‘I was going to look for Meg.’
The artifact, larger than her hand, once belonged to a 50-foot-long megalodon that lived more than 2.6 million years ago.
Sampson said her daughter found over 400 teeth, but the five-inch one pulled from the water last month is the largest.
Molly Sampson, 9, strapped on a pair of fishing waders Christmas Day and headed out to the Chesapeake Bay to search for ‘the Meg’. She found a five-inch tooth in the shallow waters
Sampson shared several images of Molly holding her discovery, beaming with a smile from ear to ear.
‘My husband has looked for them his entire life! We’ve always lived close to the bay so all of our kids have done it since they were little,’ she told DailyMail.com.
‘The main thing that Molly really wanted was insulated chest waders so that she could go out in the water when it was cold and look for sharks’ teeth.’
Sampson said she was not there for the hunt, but heard all about the discovery when Molly, her other daughter Natalie, 17, and her husband Bruce returned home.
‘Molly said she wanted to start screaming when she found the tooth because she was so excited!’ she said.
‘I wasn’t there because it was too cold for me, but my husband said she started shrieking, saying, ‘look what I found!’
‘This is something she’s always wanted to find.’
‘Molly is a super shy kid, so she isn’t one to like the spotlight, but she also knows it’s more about this amazing tooth.’
The young girl has been hunting for sharks since she could walk on the beach, but she always keeps an eye out for ‘the Meg.’
This is the sixth megalodon Molly has found, but it is the largest, Sampson said.
Molly has found over 400 teeth of all different types.
Molly told her mother that she hopes other kids see how fun exploring is and will go on their own adventures.
The Sampson family also shared their discovery on Facebook.
‘I’m pretty sure Molly is feeling like this is the best Christmas ever,’ her mom wrote in the post.
‘… This tooth was in the water, so thanks to the waders, she got the best part of her present!’
The family also shared an image of the trove all three uncovered on Christmas Day – they found a total of 22 shark teeth.
Molly, her sister Natalie, 17, and her father Bruce strapped on winter gear before heading out to the Bay to hunt for fossils
Molly has collected over 400 shark teeth, but the latest find is the largest one she has found to-date. Alicia Sampson, her mother, shared several images of Molly holding her discovery, beaming with a smile from ear to ear
The five-inch tooth was taken to the Calvert Marine Museum, which confirmed the fossil’s identity.
According to the museum, Molly took the tooth to their paleontology department but will have access to marvel at the discovery anytime she wants.
For more than a century, scientists have attempted to decipher the appearance of the megalodon, the largest shark that ever lived.
Scientists admit they still have no idea what the legendary creature looked like when it swam the seas roughly 15 to 3.6 million years ago.
In a new study, experts say all previously proposed body forms of the gigantic megalodon remain ‘in the realm of speculations’.
The massive tooth belonged to a creature that was at least 50 feet long
But the academics are hopeful that a complete megalodon skeleton – what they describe as the ‘ultimate treasure’ – will one day be found, which could conclusively reveal what it looked like.
‘The study may appear to be a step backward in science, but the continued mystery makes paleontology, the study of prehistoric life, a fascinating and exciting scientific field,’ said study author Kenshu Shimada at DePaul University in Chicago.
‘The fact that we still don’t know exactly how O. megalodon looked keeps our imagination going.
‘This is exactly why the science of paleontology continues to be an exciting academic field. We’ll continue looking for more clues in the fossil record.’
The family also shared an image of the trove all three uncovered on Christmas Day – they found a total of 22 shark teeth. Top row is Molly, the middle is Natalie and the bottom is Bruce’s.
The five-inch tooth was taken to the Calvert Marine Museum, which confirmed the fossil’s identity. According to the museum, Molly took the tooth to their paleontology department but will have access to marvel at the discovery anytime she wants
The megalodon, whose name means ‘big tooth,’ is typically portrayed as a super-sized, monstrous shark in novels and films such as the 2018 sci-fi film ‘The Meg.’
While there is no dispute that they existed or were gigantic, the megalodon (officially called Otodus megalodon) is known only from ancient fossilized teeth and vertebrae.
Based on this evidence, studies suggest they reached lengths of at least 50 feet and possibly as much as 65 feet.
In 1843, Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz gave this shark its initial scientific name, Carcharodon megalodon, based on tooth remains.
But more than 150 years later, additional fossil evidence to conclude their bodies, such as a complete skeleton, has not yet been discovered.
The extinct beast from beneath: Megalodon roamed the seas more than 3.6 million years ago
The megalodon, meaning big-tooth, lived between 23 and 3.6 million years ago.
O. megalodon is considered to be one of the largest and most powerful predators in vertebrate history and fossil remains suggest it grew up to 65 feet long.
It’s thought the monster looked like a stockier version of today’s much feared great white shark and weighed up to 100 tons.
Megalodon is recognizable due its huge vertebrae and teeth, which are triangular and measure almost eight inches in diagonal length.
Famed fossil hunter Vito ‘Megalodon’ Bertucci took almost 20 years to reconstruct a megalodon’s jaw – largest ever assembled – which measures 11 feet across and is almost 9 feet tall.
The Megalodon’s colossal mouth would have produced a brute force of 10.8 to 18.2 tons.
The ancient shark has been described as a super predator, because it could swim at high speeds and kill a wide variety of prey such as sea turtles and whales, quickly in its strong jaws.