An 8-year-old outdoorsman found a fossilized shark tooth from a long-extinct species while on vacation with his family in South Carolina earlier this month, reports FOX News.
Riley Gracely of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, vacationed in Myrtle Beach, SC with his father, Justin Gracely, his mother, Janelle Gracely, and his brother, Collin, in August. During the trip, the family stopped at Palmetto Fossil Excursions, an educational fossil hunting expedition center in Summerville, South Carolina.
There, Riley, who is 8, “was walking by the bases of these piles of gravel and dirt and noticed what he thought was the edge of a tooth,” Justin Gracely, the child’s father, told Fox in an email News.
“We are so proud of Riley”
“When he took it out, he was very excited,” says the proud father. Riley had discovered a 4.75 inch angustidens tooth. “We are so proud of Riley,” added Justin Gracely.
The father said staff at Palmetto Fossil Excursions explained the significance of Riley’s find, which apparently stood out because of its “species, size and condition.”
Angustidens was a prehistoric megadense shark that lived approximately 33 million to 22 million years ago during the Oligocene and Miocene epochs.
That’s according to Mindat.org, a nonprofit mineral database and mineralogical reference site hosted by the Hudson Institute of Mineralogy in Keswick, Virginia.
The largest species of shark that ever lived
Experts believe angustidens were a close relative of megalodons, an extinct prehistoric shark said to be the largest shark species to have ever lived, scientists have drawn from fossils discovered since then.
Megalodons are thought to have lived about 23 million to 3.6 million years ago, during the Miocene and early Pliocene epochs.
“CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!! This young man just scored a 4.75” Angustiden tooth in our Premium Gravel Layer piles during a dry land dig!!!,” the Palmetto Fossil Excursions group wrote in an Aug. 11 Facebook post.
“Congratulations again kid! Truly the discovery of your life!!!”, the group also wrote.
“Meet a future paleontologist!”
One commenter, reacting to the post about Riley Gracely’s discovery, wrote on Facebook: “So precious! He already has a love for fossils!”.
Another person wrote: “Meet a future paleontologist! Good job, young man!”
Riley Gracely’s father, Justin Gracely, also told Fox News Digital that his son is an avid fisherman who loves science and the outdoors.
“His collection is still in its early stages, so he’s keeping it for now, but who knows in time,” wrote Justin Gracely. “It would be nice if others could enjoy it.”
The father also added that the boy “probably found 7 or 8 species of teeth in total.”
The Gracelys enjoy family fossil hunting
The Gracelys enjoy family fossil hunting and have done creek trips, dry digs and other premium digs in gravel piles.
“This was the third year in a row that I have done trips with this gear and they have been the best,” wrote Justin Gracely. “I wish I had these trips when I was younger because it’s a blast.”
He continued, “We vacation in Myrtle Beach every summer, so ever since Riley and his brother Collin could walk, we’ve been dedicated to searching for these beach treasures. It’s something that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age.”