Hornchurch girls Chloe, 7, and Milly, 10, dig up ‘exceptional’ 53million-year-old shark’s tooth fossil
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 August 2013
In 20 years of visiting the fossil beach at Walton-on-the-Naze, Andy Gillon hasn’t found much to write home about.
So he was a little surprised when his daughters, aged seven and 10, happened upon a 53million-year-old shark’s tooth without even looking.
The family, of Hillcrest Road, Hornchurch, was on holiday on Wednesday last week when Hylands pupils Chloe and Milly made the find.
“I spoke to a few people down there who said they’ve been searching the beach for years and years, and never found anything this big,” said proud dad Andy.
“It’s a fair size and it’s still quite sharp – a complete and utter one-off.
“I used to go there every year as a kid and I never found anything like that.
“They weren’t even looking for it – they were just playing and digging.”
Local fossil expert Mike Cranstone-Todd, who runs the Nazeman website, said the tooth belonged to an extinct shark called otodus.
“It’s 53 to 55 million years old and it’s a good size example,” he added.
“It’s not the biggest we’ve seen, but for a first find it’s rather good. It’s quite exceptional – it’s in really good condition.”
Mike admitted beachcombers turn up an otodus tooth of some description pretty much every day – but finds of this size and condition are much less common.
Even with the hoards of professional and amateur palaeontologists who descend on Walton, he sees only a handful each year, and rarely are they found by such young fossil hunters.
“At 57, I probably seem ancient to them,” he joked, “so 53million is like a telephone number – too many zeroes.”
So have Chloe and Milly been bitten by the fossil bug (or shark)?
Time will tell – but Mike said a similar find as a youngster led him to take the path he’s now on.
“When I was seven I found my own megalodon tooth, and that ruined my life,” he said. “It set me on a course I didn’t realise I’d still be on.
“There’s a fascination with it.”
Move over Nazeman – the Nazegirls have arrived.
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