Why Are Fossilized Shark Teeth Colored?

Ever wondered why shark teeth are not mainly white but colored? From brown to dark gray, you will find different colors but hardly a white preserved tooth. If you believe it has got something to do with the age of a fossil or its type, the answer is unfortunately a big NO. A fossilized tooth of an extinct shark gets the color from the type of deposit in which it had been preserved all these years. To understand it in a better way, let’s just take a quick look at how a shark tooth gets fossilized first.

Shark shed teeth throughout their life. When a tooth sinks to the bottom of the ocean, it gets buried under a deposit of sediments. With time, layers of sediment get deposited above it. And when pressure comes into play, it comprises the deposits even further. Consequently, minerals of the surrounding sediments start replacing the organic material via the permineralization method. Ultimately, the tooth gets preserved and takes the color from the surrounding minerals present in the deposit.

Now, you must be wondering why the roots of shark teeth sometimes differ from enamel. Shark teeth enamel is made up of calcium phosphate, which you may know as mineral apatite, that is not found in roots and bones. In other words, the chemical composition is completely different from the cartilage that makes up the skeleton of a shark. As a result, both enamel and roots of a tooth react differently under pressure and differ in color. The same explanation goes for discoveries of a green/blue tooth fossilized in gray sediments and rarely, a white tooth in brown sediment.

In case, you are wondering how fossils found in the same layer have different colors, the answer is sediments react in a different way to each fossil. Factors like pH balance, organic-rich minerals, and size of the sediment grains affect the fossilization process. Due to variations in the mineral replacement method, the color of fossils often changes.

When you are in the search of a tooth of an extinct giant mackerel shark, such as the Megalodon shark, or extant Great White tooth, Buried Treasure Fossils is the website to explore.