The letter “S” features heavily in spring break festivities; sea, swimwear, sports, and sun loungers reign supreme. But for Avery Fauth, a young student who spent her spring break with her family near North Topsail Beach in North Carolina, her “S” was a little more dramatic: shark.
In mid-April of 2019, Fauth unearthed an ancient treasure from an extinct species, incidentally a treasure that her father had been searching for for over two decades. She found a megalodon shark tooth while sifting through the sandy beach and the debris left by the ebbing tide.
— NBC12 WWBT Richmond (@NBC12) April 18, 2019
“I’m looking around and I see something buried in the sand,” Fauth told WECT. “I uncovered it and it keeps coming, and it’s this big tooth.” Immediately realizing the importance of what she’d found, the girl held her treasure up in the air and yelled for her mom’s attention.
Fauth and her family regularly search for shark teeth; it’s Fauth’s father’s doing. He has been an avid shark tooth hunter for over 20 years, and his three daughters have inherited his keen interest. They hunt for the teeth of megalodon in particular, as this species became extinct millions of years ago.
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) April 19, 2019
“I was pretty surprised [that she found one],” Fauth’s dad admitted. “I’ve been looking for 25 years and I haven’t found anything.” He was naturally proud and excited by his daughter’s find, and shocked by the impressive size of the specimen.
“We were all kind of jumping up and down and screaming really loud,” Fauth regaled to ABC7. She confided that her father didn’t believe her at first, but the evidence spoke for itself. Fauth used Facetime to share the epic news to people back home but had to wait to show her incredulous family and friends the tooth in person before they would believe her.
“When I came back and showed them,” she continued, “they said it was really cool.”
— New York Post (@nypost) April 19, 2019
The megalodon, or “big tooth,” was originally closely related to the great white shark before diverging into a different genus. The average length of a megalodon was 10.5 meters, making it the largest shark ever documented, and it likely targeted whales, seals, and sea turtles as prey.
Fauth’s tooth could be up to 3 million years old.
The Fauth family’s haul didn’t end with this extraordinary historic find. The three sisters actually found five additional teeth on their spring break beach foray. A few belonged to great white sharks, which are occasionally spotted off the coast of North Carolina. But Avery Fauth’s tooth (the shark tooth, that is), was by far the biggest.
“I was just like ‘Is this a dream?’ because I didn’t believe I found it,” Fauth told WECT, “and then I took it out and it was one [a megalodon]. They’re really rare to find.”
Fauth sensibly deposited her find in a special box for safekeeping but admitted that she would certainly be talking about it when class resumed after spring break. She would have to rely on photos, however, with the precious tooth remaining safely at home.
That’s one beach treasure you wouldn’t want to mislay!