THE SHARKS

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Sand Tiger
Carcharias cuspidata (Agassiz)

Age -  Miocene  Occurrence - Abundant

The teeth of Carcharias cuspidata are a common find in NJ.  These teeth are large and robust, with a smooth lingual surface and nutrient groove*. Average tooth size is between 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches with a maximum reaching upwards of two inches. There is a large diversity in this group which is further compounded by differences between the upper and lower teeth. Except for the very front anterior teeth, the root lobes of Carcharias cuspidata do not have the acute angle characteristic of the sand tigers. Instead the roots form a distinctive  U shape. Anterior teeth posse reduced cusplets . Lateral teeth have a flatter root with more obtusely splayed root lobes. There is a large diversity in the cusplets of the lateral teeth, ranging from pointed, triangular to low and serrated. The cutting edge of C. cuspidata is near complete on the anterior teeth and complete on the laterals.

 Please note the additional comments at the bottom of this page. 

 


 

Carcharias cuspidata

Carcharias cuspidata displays a wide range of tooth forms.
Top 2 rows - Anterior teeth
Bottom 2 rows - Lateral teeth

Scale 1 inch
Monmouth County, NJ
 


 

Only the very front anterior teeth have the root lobes with the acute angle so
characteristic of the sand tigers.
Differences between the upper and lower teeth are significant enough
to help produce what seems like a never ending array of tooth variations.
 


 

Except for the very front teeth the roots on the anterior teeth form
 a distinctive "U" shape.
Anterior-lateral tooth lingual and labial views.
 


 

The upper lateral teeth are distally inclined while lower laterals are straight or only
 slightly inclined. The crown on the lowers tends to be narrow. Both upper and
 lower laterals have a complete cutting edge.

 


 

The cusplets on the lateral teeth can range from serrated to triangular,
 pointed to low.
 


 

Lower jaw first anterior tooth (parasymphyseal)
Monmouth County, NJ
 


 

           A whole mess of them.


 


 

 The teeth of C. cuspidata are somewhat problematic. The large diversity of tooth forms
 makes these teeth easy to confuse with other species. To compound the problem the roots
tend to fossilize poorly and the cusplets are often missing.

*  For a sand tiger the nutrient grove of C. cuspidata tends to be weak. Stream wear and/or poor root fossilization may result in the nutrient groove not being visible at all.

 

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