Fossil Sharks' Teeth in Venice Florida

It seems incredible but it's true: you can walk along a beach in Venice Florida and pick up fossil sharks' teeth millions of years old.

Sharks' Teeth, Venice Florida

Sharks' teeth hunters on Caspersen Beach.

How is it possible that for decades visitors to Venice Florida have found fossil sharks' teeth on Venice beaches, picked them up, taken them away, and later visitors have found more?

How can there be so many sharks' teeth left from millions of years ago?

The simple answer is twofold:

1. There are 370 varieties of sharks

2. Sharks have several parallel rows of teeth. As they feed, the front row of teeth falls out and is replaced by a new row growing from behind. A row may be replaced in as little as a week or two, or as long as a month or two when the shark is less active in feeding.

In its lifetime, a single shark may produce as many as 25,000 teeth!

It's worth noting that the sharks' teeth you may find on a Venice beach are usually not the teeth themselves, but fossils, mineral replicas of the teeth. As the original material of the teeth wasted away, it was replaced by minerals in exactly the same shape.

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has the largest collection of sharks' teeth in the world—with photos. More...

But you needn't travel to Washington DC to see sharks' teeth. In Venice, you can find your own...and make your own collection.

Granted, it's not perhaps as easy as in years past. Collection of sharks' teeth by hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors over decades has depleted the supply, and major dredging sand replenishings of sand along Venice Beach in the 1990s may have changed the patterns of the sea's movements.

But it is certainly still possible. The teeth you see in the photo on this page are among a handful collected easily in a half hour's walk along Caspersen Beach.

Caspersen Beach, Venice Florida

Fossil sharks' teeth picked up during a walk along Caspersen Beach, Venice FL.

Good reading on the beach!

Three novels by Tom Brosnahan